Competitive Eating is Sick and Wrong
This past Independence Day stirred the usual thoughts within me: " I'm glad I am an American, I like fireworks", and of course, the all-important question, "what do I intend to eat on this most glorious of occasions?" There is a tinge of sarcasm in that sentence though, as thoughts of food simply do not occupy much of my time. Don't get me wrong, I like to eat just as much as the next person, but it just doesn't excite me like it did when I was a child. I'm extremely grateful I live in a country of such abundance, but I never salivate over Burger King commercials, don't get very excited while waiting for dinner in a restaurant, and absolutely hate the feeling of being stuffed.
So to no surprise, I feel more than a tinge of disgust when viewing anything related to competitve eating. What I am so amazed by though, is the near total lack of moral questioning in regards to the aptly-named "sport" of gurgitation. So I hope this hub to be less of a rant against what I consider to be plain and simply gluttony, and more of an open forum on other's thoughts concerning this ever-growing cultural phenomenon. But, first, let me rant.
Warning: Not for the Squeamish!
Despite the supposed athleticism of its participants and the ever-increasing cultural acceptance of it, competitive eating is gluttony, plain and simple. There is something very disturbing about watching a man eat until he vomits or ruptures his stomache, and what is the grand purpose of this increasingly televised event? Where scantily-clad women and past "champions" cheer on such copious consumption? To simply say, "I can eat more food, and in a lesser amount of time, than you." This is entertainment? And why is there so little dialogue on the ethics of this practice?
I'm hesitant to use this argument, but I can't help recalling the oft-repeated remonstration used by parents to chide their children into finishing their vegetables; "There are starving people in Ethiopia who would love to eat those brussel sprouts!" Obviously, if an eating competition were cancelled we wouldn't be able to ship 2000 hot dogs to Somalia, but this old adage does bring up questions on the nature of abundance, consumption, and our relationship to the majority of the world, who are indeed, starving. The above images strike a chord deep within me, and lead me to question just how appropriate it is to celebrate the abundance of one's country in such a mannner. I've always believed that the human race should hold itself to a higher level, one that refelects our inherent nobility and dignity, and that stresses the importance of personal accountability. A dog, when given the opporuntiy, will eat until it vomits. What message is the video above speaking to regarding the divide between humans and animals?
Why does a clearly asinine event such as competitve-eating hold such attention in the developed world? Compare this to, for example, a show where people limit their calorie intake by 50% for one month, then use the money that would have been spent on food as a donation to food banks, the salvation army, red cross, etc.? Which would hold greater interest for the American people?
What are your thoughts?
Please bear in mind my intention is not to judge, not to hold myself in higher regard than anyone else on this issue. Lord knows, I could be doing a LOT more to contribute to impoverished countries throughout the world. But I sincerely feel this is an issue that needs to be more thoroughly scrutinized. We shouldn't just be watching these deplorable events and saying, "gross!" We should be taking it a step further and realizing that not only are these events disgusting, but immoral, gluttonous, and irresponsible.
So what are your thoughts? I invite anyone with an opinion on the matter to leave a comment, but please, as always, keep it civil.