Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Day of Gluttony and Fireworks

It's become a big deal over the last few years, and I have no idea why. The Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest on July 4th has grown in popularity, so much so that ESPN now shows it live. (Does this mean that Hot Dog Eating is now a sport? And why does ESPN show "The National Spelling Bee" every year too? Is that a sport now, too?) They even had a "weigh-in" of the contestants on Friday. (Is there actually a weight limit to all this hijinx?)

I had it on for a few seconds yesterday, watching these guys shove franks into their faces as fast as they could. Just watching it I thought I'd lose my cookies. Welcome to "The Wide World of Gluttony."And then I thought of that new Geico commercial I see, the one that goes, "There are better ways to spend 15 minutes online" (or in this case, watching TV). Heck, 30 seconds was enough for me.

I understand that some guy named Joey Chestnut won the title back from the immortal Kobayashi, who wins it every year. Well, thank God the hot dog eating champion has brought the title back to America, where it rightfully belongs!

I spent yesterday evening with my friends Gareth and Kim, at Gareth's apartment to have a cookout to celebrate the holiday. I was with them last year, and had fun. Yesterday it rained a good part of the evening. We had to spend part of it in Gareth's East Village apartment, waiting for the rain to subside so we could start the BBQ. A number of Gareth's friends also joined us. Kim and I talked about the Red Sox victory yesterday, and with the Yankees defeat against the Twins, they are now 12 games back. We also talked about celebrating if and when the Red Sox win the division and the Yankees are eliminated. (Of course, no one is calling it over yet, as there's still a half-season left to play.)

Kim promised me that on the day the Yankees are out, she will buy me four beers at Professor Thom's, and I promised to slug down them all. (As many of you may know, I don't have a high tolerance for alcohol. Despite my ethnic background, I didn't acquire that gene. One beer often gets me buzzed. That's why I don't drink often while watching ball games. I'd be heading for AA right now if I did.) On only rare occasions in my life have I ever had four beers in one night, and usually the next day I am in no condition to do anything. But that should be a special day, and heck, Kim will be buying.

After the cookout, we went on the roof of Gareth's building at 9 PM, and took in the fireworks show going on along the East River. There were a few hundred people up there, and everyone seemed to have a good time. The rain stopped just as it was beginning, and with an absolutely spectacular view, it was fun to be up there.

Beats watching guys stuff hot dogs in their mouths, that's for sure.


Dan Sullivan said...

It is the Entertainment and Sports Programing Network (ESPN).

Poker, Eating, Spelling Bees, it falls on the Entertainment side. ESPN is generating more revenues these days on the World Series of Poker than they are on their NBA programming. It is just a matter of putting on what people want to see. Getting scheduled on ESPN does not transform an activity into a sport.

The Omnipotent Q said...

Thanks for the info, Dan. Didn't know poker brings ESPN more revenue than basketball does...

Give the people want they want, I guess...

Suldog said...

I started watching the thing a few years back out of curiosity. I now look forward to it. God help me, I actually know the names of seven or eight of the competitors and could give you some actual background on them.

66 dogs in 12 minutes? Gross, but amazing.

Suldog said...

By the way, I certainly wouldn't want to sleep in the same room as any of those guys that evening. The flatulence must be gargantuan.

The Angry Tech said...

Okay, I'm gonna weigh in (get it!?) on this:

1) I think it was on ESPN2, not ESPN. They cover a lot of "lesser" competitions, including the non-sports you mentioned. This weekend, there's the USA Rock-Paper-Scissors league championships.

2) Competitive eating *IS* a sport, by most definitions -- a skilled activity involving physical exertion. True, competitive eaters exert different muscle groups from those in the more mainstream sports, but you don't have to dig too deeply to realize that they *are* athletes, not gluttons.

At least not gluttons by definition. There are some fatties on the circuit, but have you seen David Wells lately? Compare his "athletic" physique to the person currently holding the most competitive eating world records, Sonya Thomas.

Their training by and large does NOT involve eating huge amounts of food, but rather expanding their stomachs (consuming large amounts of water is a common technique) and minimizing the gag reflex.

Granted, it's kind of gross to watch, but so is olympic weightlifting. Competitive eating just seems worse because it lasts longer (10-15 minutes generally) and because it takes something we consider commonplace (eating) to an athletic level.

This concludes today's PSA. Go about your business. :-)