Monday, July 7, 2014

Hot Dogging

TigerBlog and TigerBlog Jr. were watching soccer over the weekend, and when one game ended, the coverage immediately switched to the hot dog eating contest that was coming up.

TB thinks he'd rather binge-watch every episode of the Kardashians than listen to the fawning coverage of the hot dog eating contest, which takes place on the Fourth of July at Nathan's. To TB, it's pretty much everything that's awful about contemporary American society - the hot dog eating contest, that is, though the Kardashians are also.

The point of the hot dog eating contest is to see how many hot dogs a person can eat in 10 minutes, bun included. In other words, it's a celebration of gluttony.

Here is the United States, a country blessed with riches that most of the globe can't even fathom. And with so many people on Earth who have nothing to eat at all, here is a contest in which the goal is to eat as much as possible.

How in the world does that look to the, uh, world? Well, TB will tell you. It looks awful.

And it's not just that there's a contest like this. It's that it's on national TV, generating big ratings, presumably. It's a celebration of gluttony, as TB said.

Beyond that, there's the whole glorification of the people who are good at this.

TigerBlog could eat two, maybe three, hot dogs in 10 minutes without starting to feel a bit queasy. The winners of the contest could get into the 60s, which would be six hot dogs per minute or one hot dogs every 10 seconds.


TB would have laughed, had he not been so appalled, when the ESPN announcer interviewed one of the contestants and called him "one of the world's greatest eaters." Actually, he's one of the world's worst eaters, since a great eater wouldn't abuse his system that way and would presumably make much healthier food choices.

Anyway, when it came time for the contest itself, TB told TBJ that if he wanted to watch it, he had to go in another room. Instead, TBJ switched to the Indiana Jones marathon that was on and started watching the second one, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," which features some odd food choices of its own, including giant bugs, soup with eyeballs and of course for dessert, chilled monkey brains.

The hot dog eating contest is sort of like the Kardashians in that it is about celebrity for the sake of celebrity, regardless of what it takes to achieve it. In the case of the Kardashians, it's about shamelessness. In the case of the hot dog eaters, it's about the same thing, only in a different way.

What it's not about is athletics. It's not a sport to eat hot dogs. The people who were featured in the contest weren't athletes.

Princeton has 38 varsity teams, and none of them are hot dog eating.

One of them is women's soccer. Among the summer news that has gone scrolling through was the announcement that Alex Valerio was named the head women's soccer coach at St. Thomas University in Canada.

Valerio, an Ottawa native, is a 2011 Princeton grad who started 20 games in her career with the Tigers.

TigerBlog didn't realize that there was college soccer in Canada. He knew there was college basketball.

Back on the day after Thanksgiving in 1999, Princeton played Ohio University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was the nightcap of a day that included four other games - a high school girls game, a high school boys game, a college women's game and a college men's game prior to Princeton-Ohio. All of the other teams were Canadian.

TB isn't quite sure how Princeton ended up in that game, which was played in the Atlantic time zone, one hour earlier than Eastern. It's one of seven time zones in which TB has seen Princeton play a game that counted, with two others for games that didn't count.

Work in college athletics? See the world.

TB remembers that Chris Young blocked a ton of shots - nine, a school single-game record - and came within two rebounds and one blocked shot of the only triple-double in school history. TB also remembers having great salmon before the game and how clean Halifax was, as well as how nice the arena was.

Anyway, that game was TB's only Princeton game in Canada. But still, if there's Canadian college basketball, which not Canadian college soccer?

St. Thomas is in New Brunswick, and the team plays in the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association, a nine-team league. Valerio's team finished third in the league last year, behind the University of King's College and Mount Saint Vincent's, which are both in Halifax.

TigerBlog has no idea how the quality of Canadian women's college soccer is. He wonders if Valerio's goal is to coach in the United States or stay in Canada.

Either way, she has her first head coaching job three years after graduation from Princeton.

It's a great start to a career.

Alex Valerio is a friendly, respectful, engaging young woman with a very sharp sense of humor, qualities that certainly help in coaching. TB wishes her luck.

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