War Criminal: Competition

Now, forgive me for a second if it seems like I've been living in a cave for the past few weeks [although I did go home to the UK for the holidays, which apparently has the cultural relevancy of a cave these days], but I just came across this "story" that shook me to my very core.

Four participants, sitting in recliners in front of a dozen 42-inch high-definition plasma televisions and a couple of 14-foot HD projection TVs, will try to watch the most continuous hours of televised sports. They can order unlimited food and drinks, but they can't go to sleep or leave their recliners except for restroom breaks once every eight hours.

My mind takes a vacation when it tries to understand this concept. It's people sitting watching television and eating wings/nachos/whatever, with scheduled bathroom breaks? Ultimate Couch Potato? Competition? And the goal is what - to try and break the Guinness World Record for watching televised sports? And the prize is a TV?

What I'm [obviously] getting to is that this feat of abject atrophy is being foisted upon us as some sort of competition which, to me at least, is absolutely fucking retarded.

Is this what we've come to? All joking aside, this is our generation's bold idea of competition? Of impressive human stamina and fortitude?

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Back in Roman days, people used to fight lions. That was a fucking competition. Taking on a sabre-toothed tiger or some other exotic creature from the deepest nether regions of the old empire, and fighting it tooth and fucking nail to the end. That to me seems like a competition.

Or something like the Ironman Triathlon. That's another fucking competition right there. Who can swim a mile, bike 100+ miles and then run a marathon in under 24 hours, and who can do it the fastest? That seems more in the spirit of competition to me: people pushing each other to the edge of physical endurance, manifested in three singularly-difficult events that are then stacked together. I have participated in 100 mile biking events for various charities, and it's fucking tough. I could barely sit and take a shit afterwards thanks to the muscle fatigue, let alone wrap my head around the fact that I would then have to run a marathon.

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The definition of the word "competition" is simple: the rivalry of two or more parties over something. It can be primal, like the competition of living organisms for nutrients in order to grow, or it can be more sporting, like the 100m sprint or a high jump event. Simple: which motherfucker can jump the highest? Hey, let's compete and find out. [Early reports indicate Manute Bol is the front-runner]

It can also be a test of skill or ability. For example, if you are good at a specific thing, like throwing something really far or at singing, you would compete against other similarly-skilled people to determine who is the best. It's tangible, it requires practice, training and dedication to the cause, and it's not something that anyone might be able to do right off the bat without preparing to some degree beforehand.

And yet, ESPN, in their infinite wisdom, has decided to pluck average joes from their lives [picking the contestants randomly from those people who wrote a 200-word essay, which is also staggering. They had to write 200 words? Also known as half a page?] and let them compete over who can sit and watch the ESPN family of channels for the longest period of time. IT'S SITTING DOWN. IN A COMFORTABLE CHAIR. WITH UNLIMITED FOOD AND DRINK. AND A TELEVISION.

I'm sure these two smirking assholes were involved. [Not you Danica, you're A-OK in my book.]

Sure, it might be a competition in the loosest sense of the word given that these people are indeed trying to outlast each other, but that is why I'm making a War Criminal of the concept of competition. It's fucking stupid. Is this where evolution and humanity has been leading us for lo these many years? Is this considered competitive, something worth battling others over in order to crown a champion?

More so, this is apparently the 6th annual incarnation of the event. You mean to tell me there were 5 more of these? And someone important and powerful didn't step in and demand an end to the Darwinian joke that is ESPN's Ultimate Couch Potato contest?

Competition has a place in society. It enables us to establish economic independence in business, it gives us goals and markers to strive for in the future as we dedicate our lives to rising through the ranks of the workplace, prove internal strength and character, and to separate ourselves from the herd.

However, Couch Potato competitions are not the way forward. They're a celebration of novelty and meaninglessness, a beacon of idiocy and non-achievement. They bring out the worst in us, accentuate our worst features [sloth, greed and superficiality, to name but three], and distract us from what might really be important.

Shame on you, competition, for allowing yourself to be bastardized like this. As someone who regularly competes in life, I am disappointed.

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Postscript:
Don't come back at me saying they're good-natured fun and that I should lighten up, either. Celebrating everything that's wrong with the human race, and giving people prizes for doing fucking nothing, is counter-productive and sad. It achieves nothing. It does nothing but to highlight to the rest of the world that mediocrity ultimately holds sway in the World's most powerful country, and although I expect nothing more than the worst from ESPN, The Worldwide Leader in Vacuousness, it is a pathetic low even by their basement standards.

Postscript 2:
Maybe the real War Criminal is us as human beings, or the people who entered the contests with their 200 words of drivel. Or maybe it's ESPN. I don't know exactly, but someone's going to trial over this one. All I do know is that this was the easiest one to write.

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