The Best To Which America Will EVER Aspire...

Once again, a Fourth of July on which I am doing nothing at all -- not even attending a barbecue. Jen works, I do not, and I just don't feel like grilling anything up for myself. It would only serve to sadden me.

I have friends here, but it's not quite the same as my network back home. Today, my old crew will be gathering at Leif's most likely, and barbecuing and bocce-balling and having a general good ol' time. Me, all I have left is Nathan's Famous Hot-Dog Eating Contest on ESPN.

It's ridiculous, of course, and in two major ways. The first -- the most obvious -- is that it is a hot-dog eating contest that is shown nationally. (Actually, internationally...) We, a country comprised mostly of gluttons, choose our day of national independence to hold a contest in which people of all walks of life compete to eat things that most of us, were we to know the full and true contents of their makeup and those items were simply splattered across a platter, wouldn't eat on the highest level of dare. Certainly this smacks of utter freedom all right, and we are all the better in a psychological, and perhaps idealogical, aspect for it.

Health-wise, though? Perhaps this isn't the greatest message we should be sending to a world already convinced that we are fat tubs of lard. After all, what does Japan do? Sends an eating champion who is built like an Olympic speed-skater to come over perennially and trounce our giant fat guys into submission by doubling and sometimes even tripling their best round. Sixty freakin' hot dogs inside that little dude's stomach, when some 300-lb. sack of goo, whom I am sure holds court at the Royal Fork Buffet for about three hours straight for a single meal, can't even get down eighteen? What the hell is that?

It's all ridiculous just by conception. Execution... equally absurd. And... I love it. Can't get enough of it. Watch it faithfully every year, and if other people are around, I make them watch it too. But that brings up my second point of ridiculousness regarding this event: If this Nathan's thing is such a big deal, where is the Major League Eating circuit on the regular ESPN schedule? They get me all fired up for this show, and while I am watching it, the contestants take the stage. We hear about their accomplishments, and some of their titles are amazing. We hear that Sonya Thomas, a slim, pretty Asian girl who seems like she is more apt to attempt two legs of a triathlon before she even gets near a hot dog, holds 21 world eating records. (Don't even get me started on Juliet Lee...) I hear about the Asparagus Eating Champion and the Hard-Boiled Egg Eating Champion and the Flapjacks Smothered in Colonic Discharge Eating Champion. (OK, maybe not that last one, but I can dream...)

Where are all the other eating championships? Do I just take ESPN's word that these are real contests, or will I ever be given the chance to see if someone can down a gallon and a half of chili in eleven minutes? How great would that be? Certainly far more interesting than watching Major League Lacrosse, which as far as I can tell is mainly exciting to the people actually playing it. Two of this morning's Top Ten Plays were from MLL, and I not only couldn't tell the two plays apart, but couldn't even see the goals being scored until they slowed them down and showed me an extreme closeup. That's not really a spectator sport. Eating? Pure spectacle... provided you can keep your own food down while watching it. And if you don't... your spray will merely add to the spectacle.

I know Spike TV has shown a couple of events, but that is just a small regurgitation in the vomit bucket. Where is the regularly scheduled, weekly competitive eating show? Food Network should get involved. After all, that is where all the food is at. How about unleashing Kobayashi and Chestnut on Flay and Morimoto on Iron Chef? Then the focus could be on quantity and quality. Why isn't there a Next Food Network Eating Star reality show? It would be a spin-off where they eat all of the unpalatable food created by the Next Food Network Star nebbishes. Royalties, here...

But they would probably just do what they did to dodgeball. Once the Vince Vaughan movie came out, there was all of a sudden this great surge of dodgeball activity on TV. It was stupid with two O's and fascinating. This -- this game that I loved as a child, which seems to have caused so much psychological damage to half the populace (mind you, I too was a bespectacled, picked on nerd weakling as a child, but I could dodge really fucking well) -- was all of a sudden "professionally" played on television, and I just couldn't get over my disbelief. And then it was gone. Once the novelty wore off, whatever audience they gained went away, and now there is a dodgeball-gap on television.

The same thing would likely happen with the Major League Eating circuit. There would be initial interest, and then one day, most people would wake up and go "What the hell was I watching last night?" And that would be it.

If only most of America would wake up that way one morning thinking that about American Idol. Talk about being smothered in colonic discharge... sheesh...

Closing note: The Great Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut end up needing what is termed a "dog-off" to decide the winner after they both downed 59 dogs each in 10 minutes. Joey took the Mustard Belt home by finishing off his extra five dogs by a split second over the former six-time champ. How is that not one of the great sports finishes of all time? Way better than that lacrosse crap. Now... let me see that chili contest!


Urgh, you sure make it sound exciting, but I really would not like to see an eating contest. Watching people eat is one of the grossest things I can think of. I have to turn away whenever one of those damned Carl's Jr. ads pops up.
Rik Tod said…
Yeah, I agree. Eating is gross to watch.

Strangely, I don't feel this way when I am watching the Nathan's contest. There is something so absolutely surreal about such a thing even occurring that I don't even consider it eating anymore, but truly see it now as an athletic endeavor.

A really absurd athletic endeavor, but as the fatties get out the way and people actually built more like athletes prevail in these things, you really have to consider the thought.
Chewy said…
If not for the crowd, its actually pretty cool in person too.

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