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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Eating champion defends his sport

Published: October 26, 2007
Section: Sports

This past Wednesday, I competed for my third year in the annual Sherman Hot Dog Eating Contest. This year, the object of the contest was to consume ten hot dogs as quickly as possible. With ease, I was able to accomplish the task in around five minutes and win a mountain bike as my prize. Because of such legends as Kobayashi and Joey Chesunut, competitive eating has finally come to the forefront of public discussion. People are amazed that these participants can eat literally dozens of hot dogs, and are awed by their skill and talent. Some would even consider competitive eating a sport, and a few even say that it should be made an Olympic event.

Others denounce this claim as mere buffoonery, stating that competitive eating is little more than a contest for amusement. I would like to throw my hat into the debate and claim that competitive eating is in fact an athletic event. It requires training, patience, pacing and a number of other abilities that athletic exhibitions contain. The sport also involves putting ones body to the limit of what is humanly possible. For all of the similarities with athletic contests, for all of its attributes, competitive eating should be considered a sport.

One of the main reasons why I consider competitive eating a sport is because of the training and mentality that went into the competition. Several hours before the event, I was already preparing myself;

the only food I consumed prior to the competition was a sandwich at eleven. Three hours before downing the hot dogs, I went down to the gym for track practice and ran two fast miles to try to work up a sweat. I also spent about thirty minutes in the weight room to try to jumpstart my metabolism. This athletic preparedness ensured that once the competition commenced, I would be in my best condition to achieve hot dog eating glory.

My mindset was also one that I usually have when competing in an athletic event. I began to get butterflies in my stomach, and I couldnt stop going to the bathroom. I even began losing sensation in my right hand, something that always happens to me during track meets.

When the competition actually began, I used all of my athletic talent and know-how to beat my opponents. First, I had to pace myself. I knew that I couldnt bite off more than I could chew and therefore resolved to take it one step at a time. I separated the dogs from the buns and adopted a simple regiment that assured my maximum potential to win. I took a dog in both hands and swallowed them down without much chewing. Then I picked up two of the buns and dunked them in water. I then swallowed this damp mess whole, trying not to gag all the while.

This is just like any sport I know. Whether its making a lay-up or competing in the high jump, a set regiment is necessary to ensure success. This is the type of strategy I adopted last Wednesday, and reflects my other athletic activities. What I felt during the competition further gives credence to the notion that eating is a sport. Adrenaline pumped though my veins as I pushed my body to the limit. Agony had to be overcome, negative thoughts shunned, and my mindset was one of an athletic nature. In this way, I truly felt that the contest was an athletic exhibition, as it reminded me of numerous sports competitions.

Many do not believe that competitive eating is a sport. They just view these exhibitions as contests that are only entertaining in their breadth. In training for this event, though, I used all the strategies and techniques utilized by other types of athletes. When it actually came time to compete, I used skill, ability, and time-honored athletic techniques to ensure victory. The skill, talent, and eventual pain for gain that comes with competitive eating makes me believe it is a sport. The only thing that makes me beleive differently is that this time, I won.