Hot dog eating – sport or spectacle?

July 6, 2011


Kris is spearheading a study investigating the merits of recognising cheerleading as a sport. As noted on the Centre for International Sport Law’s The Big Debate – Should Cheerleading be Recognised as a Sport?, to varying degrees, US courts (the Supreme Court of Wisconsin in Noffke v Bakke – which we wrote about in The Canary on 18 February 2009 – and the US District Court – District of Connecticut in Biediger et al. v Quinnipiac University – which we blogged on 19 August 2010 have had to determine whether or not cheerleading is a sport.

Similarly, the South Carolina Supreme Court is hearing an appeal whether Texas Hold ‘em poker ought to be recognised as a sport in light of Circuit Judge Markley Dennis saying that it qualifies as a sport since the outcome is determined more by the relative skill of the player than anything else (click here for the story).

Sport England takes into account the rules and organisation, uniqueness, sustainability, risk and other considerations in recognising a sport.  Accordingly, it recognises 147 sports notwithstanding that 22 of those recognised sports have no recognised governing body in England. Recognition brings with it credibility, access to government funding, tax exemptions, protection from liability, and other benefits.

At the risk of sounding like a rube, there are outlier sports whose lack of official recognition has not hurt their marketability. These sports straddle the line between sport and spectacle. To wit, mixed martial arts is not recognised by Sport England yet it is among the sports whose popularity is growing the fastest on the planet.

Two days ago, my attention was distracted on the sports networks and sports pages (as examples, click here for the Globe and Mail article and here for the ESPN piece) by news that Joey Chestnut successfully defended his hot dog crown by eating 62 hot dogs to win his fifth consecutive Nathan’s International Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Has it come to this? Celebrating as sport – and taking away ink and air time from other sports consequently marginalized including myriad kids’, women’s and men’s sports – a man’s capacity to stuff dozens of hot dogs down his throat?!?

By no means am I diminishing Joey’s accomplishment. I couldn’t do it.

I’m just not convinced it should be reported as a sport.

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One Comment on “Hot dog eating – sport or spectacle?”

  1. sologake Says:

    Great writing and your idea is really appreciative …
    Vertical Jump Bible


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