This piece was written for sports journalism students asking them to think about what is and what isn’t sport.
But is it sport?
The article linked at http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200605/competitive-eating stops just short of sneering at the rednecks and is (thus) a fine piece of feature writing. (If the link doesn’t work because it’s my subscription, e-mail me).
It does raise the question about what can be defined as sport (see this quote – “Eventually, said Rich, he and his brother hoped to convert eating from a hobby into a professional sport, like bass fishing. “That’s sort of the curve we’re looking at,” Rich said. He didn’t mention it, but in 2001 the bass-fishing league was sold to ESPN for a purported $35 million. “)
Sport can’t be defined as that which does you good (think boxing, weightlifting, “women’s” gymnastics, motor racing etc), nor that which has a physical dimension (think snooker, curling, darts etc), nor that which is sanctioned as sport (what of new sports like snowboarding etc?) I can’t believe competitive eating can be a sport (that would be too much to … er… swallow), but I would not be surprised. After all, the winner is a bit more obviously the winner than the best pair in the ice dancing.
Find out more at http://www.ifoce.com/ and for the record have your prejudices challenged by reading about the world ranked numbers one and two at http://www.ifoce.com/eaters.php?action=detail&sn=22 and http://www.ifoce.com/eaters.php?action=detail&sn=20