Competitive eating

Like many sports fans, I grew up dreaming of being a professional athlete. Unfortunately, your athletic opportunities are somewhat limited when you're 5-feet-8, overweight, injury-prone and slower than the U.S. Mail.

Once I realized I wasn't gifted enough to play sports for a living, I decided I'd COVER sports for a living. They may not admit it, but many of my peers in the sports-writing world are frustrated jocks, as well.

Regardless, now that I'm 56 years old and past my athletic peak – which occurred when I was 16 and lasted 10 minutes, the best I can figure – I had pretty much given up on ever making my way into the SportsCenter highlights. Now, though, I'm wondering if I was a bit too hasty.

While perusing the Internet earlier today, I discovered an athletic endeavor that just might present an opportunity for me – competitive eating.

Now there's a sport I could sink my teeth in to.

I didn't realize it until today but I've been inadvertently training for this sport my entire life – wolfing down hundreds of hot dogs while rushing to cover assorted sporting events. Heck, if there were an athletic endeavor that combined competitive eating AND auto racing, I'd be the grand champion.

Naturally, there's more prestige involved if you compete in pro football, pro baseball, pro basketball or even pro golf. Still, I discovered today that you can become pretty famous just by stuffing franks in your mouth at a mind-boggling pace. Several sporting websites feature recaps of yesterday's International Federation of Competitive Eating event at Coney Island.

In case you don't follow the IFCE, Joey Chestnut needed a five-minute "eat-off" to upset 128-pound Takeru Kobayashi after both had consumed 59 hot dogs during the 10-minute regulation match. The tension must've been unbearable.

Kobayashi, who appears to be the Tiger Woods of competitive eating, said afterward that he was hampered by a tooth problem and a sore jaw. Chestnut, meanwhile, celebrated his title by noting: "He wanted it but I needed it."

Finding myself hopelessly caught up in the drama, I read more of the article and learned that 21 participants competed in yesterday's festivities, including a 110-pound mother of two. (I'm wondering what she weighed at the conclusion of the contest.)

Being the creative thinker that I am, I'm mulling the idea of suggesting some variations of the hot-dog eating contest to the IFCE. For instance:

A rice-eating contest for sumo wrestlers.

A pizza-eating contest for college students.

A prune-eating contest for senior citizens.

A doughnut-eating contest for policemen.

A crow-eating contest for politicians.

A marijuana-laced brownie-eating contest for NBA players.

And, of course, the ultimate competition ...

A steroid-eating contest for Major League Baseball players.

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