Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 19, 2008
Media show's gluttony tunes out starvation
Competitive eaters dubbed ‘obscene’
By PETER FINNEY, JR.
The Clarion Herald
This went way beyond frat-house funny or sophomoric excess masquerading as harmless "entertainment."
To anyone who wonders why the world is confounded and outraged by the values trumpeted by the American sports and entertainment culture, the answer resonated with clarity May 1 on ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning talk show, which is broadcast simultaneously on radio and TV.
Mike Golic, a former NFL defensive tackle, had lost a bet with his co-host, Mike Greenberg, on their bracket predictions for the NCAA basketball tournament.
Gorge on chicken
To fulfill his end of the bet, Golic, ironically slimmed down from 300-something to 265 pounds as a national spokesman for NutriSystem, agreed to compete against three "competitive eaters" of Major League Eating to see who could consume the most boneless chicken wings in three minutes.
The hedonistic display was bad enough - Golic finished last to "professional" eaters Tim "Eater X" Janus, Pete "Pretty Boy" Davekos and "Crazy Legs" Conti - but the gluttony-as-sport, far from laughable, should sting any correctly formed conscience.
According to the World Food Program, 25,000 people die of malnutrition and poverty every day (that works out to about 17 deaths per minute); 854 million people don't have enough to eat, more than the combined populations of the U.S., Canada and the European Union; 820 million people in developing countries alone are hungry (one of every four lives in sub-Saharan Africa); and every five seconds a child dies of hunger.
I'm sure Golic, who otherwise seems like a good guy, was oblivious to these sad realities when he agreed to participate, but perhaps one day, on reflection, he'll recognize what a dangerous message he advanced by putting his weight behind such a disgusting display.
All he has to do is read up on the prevalence of anorexia and bulimia in American society, as well as the well-known and dangerous practices of jockeys, wrestlers and even young female gymnasts to control their weight through sweat boxes and purging.
Funny. So funny.
Hunger at home
"I think it is a little obscene, especially right now given the fact that people are increasingly concerned about getting enough good food to eat," said Natalie Jayroe, director of Second Harvest Food Bank of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, which since Hurricane Katrina has provided more than 151 million pounds of food to families and seniors.
"Encouraging people to engage in gluttony is not good for their lives."
ESPN has a shameful track record of self-promotion - it will promote anything that moves, 24/7, as long as it has the broadcast rights and needs to entice a young adult demographic. Hot-dog stuffing and oyster slurping are sports - if ESPN says they are.
As Golic was introduced for the competitive eating contest, a studio announcer intoned in the style befitting a heavyweight prize fight: "He's been tracked as the single cause of famine in Korea, Ethiopia and some suburbs of Connecticut!"