Let me give you a hot take. Or should I say, a hot dog take.
As much as I love the Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island, I am beginning to get a little fed up with how these eaters are being praised as “athletes.”
Joey Chestnut won yet another title and ESPN was claiming that he is a generational athlete.
I love the show, the product, and these competitive eaters do something that I could never do, but they are not athletes and competitive eating is not a sport. It just isn’t. If that is the case, then you can make just about any competition into a sport.
I’m typing very fast on this keyboard and could out-type most others. Does that make me an athlete?
I can put my two fingers in my mouth and whistle louder than just about any person in the crowd. Does that make me an athlete?
I can make my cat purr while scratching his backside faster than anyone else can. Olympics, here I come.
Nope, it certainly does not make me an athlete. These competitive eaters have my admiration, but not for being athletic. Oh, so you can eat extraordinarily fast and consume a week’s worth of food in 10 minutes? Amazing, nature defying, impressive. Not athletic.
Don’t even get me started on ping pong. Moving on.
We are officially in summer mode and I am looking forward to it immensely.
Summer really is a bittersweet time of the sports season on the local level. It’s sweet because everything is a little more relaxed, and a little more, I guess you can say light. It’s bitter because we have a two-month hiatus before things ramp back up and by the end of August, I am usually pulling my non-existent hair out, chomping at the bit, ready to go.
I always say this, but as a sports reporter, summertime is considered the slow season. In my opinion, it is anything but. Compared to a loaded winter schedule, sure, it is lighter, but there is plenty to look forward to and there is never a time that you aren’t busy.
Here are some of the things that I am excited to cover this summer.
The big one is obviously the Little League All-Star tournaments. It is always a fun atmosphere covering local youngsters looking to make a bid for a trip to Williamsport.
What I enjoy about covering Little League is that everyone is happy to be there. The kids love it, the parents may enjoy it even more than the kids, and everyone in between. The media, umpires, what have you, it is just a very friendly atmosphere.
I have spoken on this a number of times, but what I also appreciate about covering Rhode Island Little League is just the quality of it. Rhody has had the most New England Championships with eight, and Warwick North and Cranston Western have each made it in recent years. Coventry and Barrington were also winners not too long ago.
It is genuinely exciting watching these tournaments knowing that you could be watching the team that competes in Williamsport, the team that will be featured on ESPN and broadcast on national television.
I’ll admit it, and hopefully my former readers don’t see this, but that is something that has changed for me since I covered sports in Maine. Only once has a Maine team reached Williamsport, so to be honest, it always kind of felt like the state championship was the real thing. The regional portion was just a formality.
Once I came down here, that all changed, every year I feel like I could be watching the team that makes it. Even if it is not one of our teams in the Beacon Communications coverage area, it is always fun to watch.
There are also the American Legion and Connie Mack baseball tournaments going on which is fun as well. What I enjoy about these tournaments is that, similar to Little League, it truly is all about having fun.
These kids play high school, some play travel ball, winter leagues, all of that. Although the kids compete and want to win, the Legion tournaments are really there to keep them busy and to keep them sharp between seasons. During the high school season, you can tell that some of these kids face a lot of pressure, especially those that intend on playing at the college level. During the Legion season, it’s just much more relaxed.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the high stakes playoff games that we get in the spring. A little bit of pressure is good for any athlete. Like summer altogether, it is just a nice change of pace to see things a little more chill.
Summer also gives us opportunities to celebrate events that we don’t see during the other seasons. Some of my favorite stories are the non-traditional ones that I encounter in July and August.
Whether it is the annual CJ Buckley Regatta in East Greenwich Bay, the old time baseball leagues that pass through, golf outings, there is a lot of good stuff to keep an eye on.
If there are any stories that you are passionate about and feel should be covered this summer, always feel free to reach out to keep me in the loop.
Next on the agenda was a video that I saw on TikTok. I am not on the social media platform but saw it online.
It was a recent youth soccer game and the parents were restless, giving the referee grief. The referee calls timeout and tells the parents, “I will send you all home and they (the kids) will play without you. Shut your mouths and enjoy the game.”
There was a little bit more in the clip but that was kind of the climax of the exchange.
I’d suggest anyone look the clip up, I’m sure it is not hard to find. When reading the words in this column, it may seem like the ref flew off the handle. If you watch the clip though, you will see that he was calm and controlled. By the end of it, the parents were actually clapping for him.
In a time when referee numbers are dropping at a rapid rate, sports need more guys like him.
Many referees just quit, they walk away and never look back. The part-time gig just isn’t worth the drama and the headaches that the crowds drag them into. I don’t blame them one bit for wanting to step away.
What I admired about this ref in particular, is that he controlled the situation. He confronted the rowdy fans but didn’t cross any lines. At one point he even says, “You wonder why we can’t get refs out here.”
I love fans and their impact on sporting events. They are all part of the experience. Refs should be able to do their jobs without the ridicule, though. The only people that, in my opinion at least, have the right to get after an official are the coaches.
Go look up the video, it was a great 30 seconds to see.
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