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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Spaghetti Smorgasboard

There was a spaghetti eating contest on ESPN today. I caught the live action as I was running at the gym. The irony that an eating contest seemed to qualify as a sport on ESPN must have only struck me because the network covered the competition just as it would any other sporting event: interviews, comentators, a graph demonstrating each athlete's prowess. I knew ESPN's definition of a sport was far-reaching, but I had no idea it also embraced gorging oneself as sport.

So, the first head-to-head that I caught was between an older woman and a middle aged man, and that lady kicked his ass! She woofed down three plates of spaghetti (with sauce and meatballs!) before he'd made his way through his second plate. I watched in amazement as plate-replacers jumped in to take away the empty plate and add a new one filled with pasta. It reminder me a bit of those ball fetchers in tennis who jog out onto the court hunched over so as not to interrupt anything and grab the extraneous balls. (Who are those ball-fetchers fooling? We can all see them -- they're not made invisible by crouching down low.)

I believe the woman advanced on to a more difficult round (where I guess they introduce more difficult food -- maybe steaks?), but it was a little hard to follow because then I got wrapped up in the other featured head-to-head competitions, one of which featured this guy who painted his face and seemed to be in really good physical shape -- they had clips of him lifting weights in the gym, all of which seemed contradictory to his sport, but I'm not an expert. They also focused on an young Asian man who was stretching and preparing for his event just as any other athlete would: He looked so intent on his mission, so dedicated.

I don't think I'd last long in an eating competition. Sure, I sometimes eat the cake right out of the pan, but all in all, my stomach is pretty limited in its capacity and just watching that first round of spaghetti eaters made me want to throw up (something I was waiting for from the competitors); I actually felt a little bile in my mouth. I think I'll just stick to the sports where you sweat, bowling remaining the exception.

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