Saturday, August 6, 2016

America's Ugliest "Sport"

Imagine a competitive activity in which the participants do their best to show what disgusting, ignorant pigs they are. This activity is increasingly promoted and covered by all the media, especially ESPN, as if it is a legitimate sport and not an ugly and very unhealthy perversion. It is front-page news in many papers (including The Maui News) and featured in Fourth of July television news coverage.

The winners are paid thousands of dollars and lauded as if they are great athletes. There are organizations such as Major League Eating, All Pro Eating and others. I have never seen a criticism of the “sport” in a media editorial. To make matters worse, the competition has become an Independence Day tradition in cities and towns all over the nation, giving it a veneer of patriotism.  

Of course, I am referring to eating contests. With hundreds of spectators cheering them on, the competitors race to cram as many hot dogs, pies, pizzas or whatever down their throats as they can without puking the mess up, which would disqualify them and gross everyone out. Most contests give the eaters ten minutes, but some allow up to 30 minutes.

One current champion holds a record of eating 73 hotdogs with buns in 10 minutes. Imagine this if you can. Most hotdog lovers take 5 to 10 minutes to eat just one. It is obvious to a child that this piggish behavior can cause a stomachache or lead to choking. In fact, at least one of these “athletes” choked to death. 

It is less obvious that this behavior can cause stomach perforations and bleeding. Training for the big events causes normal stomach contractions (peristalsis) to fail, leading to chronic indigestion. Excessive stretching of the colon followed by chronic constipation may follow.

We have enormous problems around the world, including the U.S., with chronic hunger in some and obesity, along with diabetes, heart disease and cancer, in others. Food waste contributes to the hunger as well as to environmental problems. It is beyond comprehension that the participants engage in this hoggish behavior with great pride rather than embarrassment and shame.

The media that promote the contests apparently see no harm in publicizing and promoting these ugly Americans for all the world to see. What’s next, contests involving other biological functions such as pissing, crapping and fucking? Or perhaps a combinations of all these, a kind of pentathlon of perversions.

If you find all this disgusting, next time your local media cover or even mention one of these contests as if it is a normal thing, give the reporters and editors a piece of your mind. A large enough public backlash might make them think twice about glorifying gross gluttony.

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For more detailed critiques of various forms of quackery, including naturopathy, see my book A Consumer’s Guide to “Alternative Medicine”. It was expertly edited by legendary quack buster Stephen Barrett, MD.  The critics say:

"Superb!" -- Dr. Victor Herbert in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Excellent" -- National Council Against Health Fraud.

"Five Stars" -- Cooking Light.

"Thought provoking; a great book" -- American Journal of Health Promotion.  

When the book was published almost 30 years ago it was strongly praised by responsible health experts and the rare responsible media, but trashed by new-age critics and even vandalized in bookstores by new-age fanatics. It is as true and relevant as ever, and has been mostly vindicated by time. Yet my courageous and far-sighted publisher, the venerable Prometheus Books, is still sitting on lots of copies. Please help validate their integrity by buying a copy. Or two or more as gifts. Perhaps 10 for your local school library and health classes. See their website for assorted discounts. Make them an offer. (My royalties are insignificant; this little promo is for the benefit of one of the world's great publishers, Prometheus Books.) 

Maui's future foretoldBarbarians In Paradise -- Terror Comes to Maui. This is a prophetic flash novel about a future police state and those who rebel against it. Available in paperback and ebook at