One sport we should abort

Peeps.  Picture by Kate Ter Haar
Picture by Kate Ter Haar

There wouldn’t be many of us who got through the Easter weekend without overdoing it on the chocolate.

Then there’s Matt Stonie. He ate 100 Peeps. In 130 seconds.

OK, so reading that, I worried it was going to be a story about an insatiable cannibal, not knowing that Peeps are in fact marshmallow chickens and bunnies available in the US and Canada in a range of colours that shouldn’t be viewed with the naked eye.

Even so, this is not a pretty video. I’d warn you not to watch it if you’ve got a sensitive tummy or you’ve eaten in the past couple of  hours.

Matt is the world’s second highest ranked competitive eater. Yes, he makes a living out of stuffing his face. Ironically enough, when he’s not eating or styling his hair like a teenage girl, he majors in nutrition at college so he can become a dietician. That’s for real, peeps.

Last year, Matt ate his 21st birthday cake in under nine minutes. The whole cake. No one else got a look-in. He also holds world records for chowing down 268 gyoza in 10 minutes and about four kilos of deep fried asparagus.

As impressive as these feats are, he can’t lay an incisor on Joey Chestnut, the Roger Federer of competitive eating, who has won six straight Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Championships — the sport’s equivalent of Wimbledon — while setting benchmarks for the over-consumption of apple pie, brain tacos (gross), chicken wings, chilli, corned beef sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs (141 in eight minutes), fish tacos, grilled cheese sandwiches (47 in 10 minutes), hamburgers, ice cream, pastrami sandwiches, pork ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, salt potatoes, shrimp wontons, tacos, tamales and Twinkies.

You may have noticed in that long sentence the use of the word ‘sport’ in reference to these activities. That’s right, competitive eating is a sport. It has its own world body, Major League Eating, is governed by the International Federation of Competitive Eating and its major event, the aforementioned hotdog hoover, is televised each year on ESPN.

Embed from Getty Images

That makes Matt Stonie and Joey Chestnut athletes, which is obvious looking at the photo above. They and their fellow gurgitators, as they’re known, are variously described on Major League Eating’s website as champions, warriors, weapons of mass digestion, even national treasures.

In a world where 870 million people suffer chronic undernourishment and 500 million are obese, this ‘sport’ must surely take the cake for just plain crass. None of the food is healthy. Even the asparagus is deep fried. At least one event is sponsored by Alka-Seltzer.

Plus, it’s so dangerous, gurgitators are encouraged not to train unsupervised, in case they rupture their stomachs. One competitor says: “I’ll stretch my stomach until it causes internal bleeding,” while another, Maria Edible, tells how she gained 7 kilos in less than three minutes training for an event.

Eighteen months ago, a man died after gorging on live cockroaches and worms. He was competing for a python in an event that wasn’t sanctioned by Major League Eating. He won.

Are there any sports you’d like to see aborted – or at least not called a sport? Leave a comment


2 Comments Add yours

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