I understand that the NFL playoffs are in full swing, and this weekend was pretty good, as far as that goes. The Colts lost, as did the Cowboys, and though the Packers and the Patriots won, Brett Favre looked like a kid in the snow. It was a reasonably enjoyable weekend for watching football, all in all. Much better than the mess that was the college football season that finally came to an end. Maybe they will enact a playoff system when the current BCS deals expire.
Nonetheless, major league sports are, well, tired. It's a bunch of overpriced athletes who get out there and play a game that, for the most part, they don't seem to be interested in playing. To make matters worse, most of us are so busy sitting on our couches that we can't even pretend to live our lives through them. Where are the dreams of growing up to be Johnny Unitas or some other big-league ball-player? I'm sure there are a few, and I'm sure that more than one kid wants to make it big, but it's to land a rich contract or endorsement deal, not to be the hero on Sunday afternoons (or whenever). Where are the real sports?
Though I enjoy watching football, and not long ago, we went to see the Checkers, I have to say that professional sports just aren't doing it for me. Heck, I don't know that they ever did. Maybe our world has just become so jaded that we're looking for something else these days. I know I am. The thrill of watching these guys make millions for playing a game is there for a few minutes, but it just doesn't get the blood pumping like it really should. Obviously it does for some, because sports is a big business. But I'm thinking that there are other sports out there that have to have more to offer.
The Big Men Know Where It's At
I'm not talking about Shaq here, I'm talking about the group of men who hail mostly from countries on the Eastern edge of Europe and places that get so cold that you don't usually want to do much of anything. These are the guys who could pick up three or four of us and run a few miles for practice. The strongman competition is quite possible the most popular sport out there, not in terms of audience, but by simple measurement (I can actually find it on an obscure channel now and again).
I don't know that I'd ever aspire to be Magnus Samuelsson - or ever could be, but let's face it. I'm not going to be anyone else either. Watching these guys pick up the Atlas Stones or throw kegs over walls or just walk in circles while fighting their way through Conan's Wheel is pretty darn impressive. I'm convinced that one day we'll see a complete rupture of a blood vessel or a muscle, if not a complete meltdown as someone has an aneurysm. Though I don't wish it on anyone, it's worth watching, and what's more is you can watch it.
They Aren't Always Big, But They Should Be
When you and I sit down for our fifth helping, we know we shouldn't. But the crew from Major League Eating has no such qualms. Maybe it's because they eat just one helping, they just do it really fast, so it doesn't count. Or they go behind-the-scenes and do a reversal after everything has been counted. Whatever the case, the leaders in this sport are actually small, many smaller than me, and that actually makes it cool to watch. Well, that and the fact that they cram fistfuls of food in their mouth for eight minutes at a time. It's just unbelievable to watch.
We even went to see an event live, and it was every bit as much fun in person as it was on the tube (though it was a lot hotter). The big problem with MLE is that it's tough to find. Though you can find the big events such as Nathan's Hot Dog championship on July 4th, or maybe the Krystal, it's rare to find anything else. So far, I've only see two of the MLE Chowdown events on, and that's only through luck.
Don't Forget the Lumberjacks
The event that is fun to watch - even more so than the strongman competition, because it involves a lot more skill, and not just brute strength - is the lumberjack competition. Strangely, these events have almost vanished from television of late. It's been years since I've seen them. From time to time you can also find some closely-related games that are Scottish in origin, but they are all similar, and well worth watching in person or on the tube. But getting it there is the tough part.
What I want to know is - where have all these good sports gone? Why are we always stuck with just the standard fare? Maybe there ought to be some leagues formed around strongmen, eaters and lumberjacks, and get them some more airtime...