Monday, July 5, 2010

Gluttony is Not a Sport

Check out this tidbit:

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Japanese eating champion Takeru Kobayashi, arrested at a July Fourth hot dog-eating event, was freed Monday after a night in jail, looking a little weary and saying he was hungry.

Kobayashi, wearing in a black T-shirt bearing the message "Free Kobi" in green letters, was freed by a Brooklyn judge after he pleaded not guilty. The slim and boyish 32-year-old said he consumed only a sandwich and some milk in jail.

A contract dispute had kept Kobayashi out of Sunday's annual Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest, but he showed up anyway.

"I was there as a spectator, just to cheer on my buddies," he said through an interpreter outside court Monday. Fans chanted for him, and "in the heat of it, I jumped on the stage, hoping they would let me eat."

His attorney, Mario D. Romano, said his client was waved up onstage after spectators began chanting "Let him eat!"

"Shortly after he got on the stage, he was grabbed from behind by officers," Romano said.

Kobayashi was charged with obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest, trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Kobayashi, who's currently living in New York, had refused to sign a contract with Major League Eating, the fast food equivalent of the National Football League. On his Japanese-language blog, he said he wanted to be free to enter contests sanctioned by other groups.

But a few days ago, he told Japan's Kyodo News: "I really want to compete in the (Coney Island) event."

Joey "Jaws" Chestnut of California won by downing 54 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

After witnessing the drama involving Kobayashi, Chestnut said, "I feel bad for him."

Chestnut claimed the mustard-yellow champion's belt and a $20,000 purse but was disappointed with his own performance. The 26-year-old was aiming for a record 70 dogs in 10 minutes. Last year, he ate 68 dogs, four more than Kobayashi.

(end of article, from Yahoo pages)

This is an incredible piece of news. In a world where millions of people, mostly children, starve to death, not only does North America take the (fatty) cake, we eat it too. It's already ridiculous that we have appetizers, the things that you eat before you eat, and portion sizes that are roughly equivalent to frisbees for large dogs, but now, we've gone and made gluttony a sport. A spectator sport, complete with fans, belts, and something called Major League Eating. This thing gets its own league? Well, I guess if poker gets to be a 'sport', that pretty much opens the floodgates to anything you can compete at.

Gluttony should not a source of pride. In a world where everyone wants to be a winner and to be good at something, it's become more and more common to have stupid things be celebrated as achievements. In short, it doesn't matter how stupid that thing you can do is, as long as you're the best at it. It's kind of like everyone gets a trophy day, minus all the self-esteem and goodwill it's supposed to give you.

Are there really that many people interested in competitive eating? Obviously, there's a core group, namely the one chanting "let him eat!" It seems that the television crazed world will readily watch anything, no matter how disgusting or mundane.

What kind of people are interested in competitive eating? They must be the same people who like to watch shows where people injure themselves or try out strange experiments that usually end up blowing up (literally) in their face. Or those who love the train wreck reality tv shows starring clueless, selfish people.

And what kind of contract dispute could have occurred between him and the NFL equivalent of a professional eating league? Really? This guy downs hot dogs in public for prizes and he's looking to protect his independence and his image? How good can your image really be? You're a hot-dog eating champion. You have too much pride to wear some company's t-shirt?

Regardless of the general gripes that I have with the idea of competitive eating, there's also the obvious social contradictions. We're a society that doesn't guarantee basic rights like those of food, water and shelter to anyone, and yet, we're open to creating an industry based on wastefulness in order to entertain ourselves. We're constantly being told to be on the alert for rising obesity, diabetes and liver problems associated with overeating, inactivity and bad dietary habits, and yet, we've decided to bundle those three things together into a sport.

If we need everyone to excel in something, no matter how stupid or useless it is, why not take it a step further and see how greedy people really are and have a greedy contest run by Major League of Greed? Oh, wait, we already have that, it's called Wall Street. Why not see how superficial and materialistic people really are and have a superficial contest run by the Major League of Superficiliaty? Oh wait, we already have the Hills.

Maybe we should bring back the competitive spirit and celebrate achievements that are real, which require hard work, discipline and years of dedication? Why not elevate the qualities that we would like to see in people, such as athleticism or intelligence?

Maybe because that may require us to acknowledge that there are handfuls of people on this earth who have those qualities and that the rest of us only excel at laziness, selfishness, overindulgence and proscrastination?

This is why the everyone gets a trophy day experiment failed. Because the truth is, not everyone deserves one.


  1. I couldn't find an email to contact you. We're interested in posting this and some of your other posts (possibly regularly) on our site:

    Check it out and let me know. Good stuff

    Brandon Jones

  2. if they're so hungry, tell them to join an eating contest then.