"It is possible to die from eating. But I think to be professional means you don't die." (Takeru Kobayashi)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Raising aspiring competitive eaters ain't easy

Heather and I were watching the Johnsonville Brat Eating Contest today on TiVo when she (once again) raised her concern about children watching competitive eating events. Basically she thinks they shouldn't.

The result, says Heather, is that kids who see adults stuffing their faces will think it's okay to stuff their own faces and from there it's a slippery slope toward obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and four years of high school without a date.

I disagreed. Not because I knew lots of fat guys in high school who enjoyed healthy social lives, but because I think kids can watch competitive eating events and not be confused about why these people are able to eat a week's worth of calories in one sitting and still have washboard abs. Granted, it will take a conversation between the parent and the child to help explain how that's possible, but it can be done.

In parenting circles (of which I'm outside of), times like those are called "teachable moments." Supposedly we're surrounded by them. Watching TV, shopping for groceries, knockin' back a few at a strip club, even watching a local wing eating contest -- teachable moments are pretty much everywhere.

Then it hit me. My entire argument rested on a actual conversation between the parent and the child. That only happens on The Cosby Show, right?


How many of the 1,000,000 people who watched the Nathan's contest at home were watching with their kids? And how many of those parents took the time to talk to their children afterwards about the awesome feat they had just witnessed and how it is not indicative of real life eating habits? (Not to mention the body image issues the kids will struggle with after seeing Kobayashi flex like he'd just eaten a side of bovine steroid laden beef.) One in five? One in ten? One in. . .oh hell, who wants another burger?

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it somehow OK to watch people do drugs, assault, rape, and murder people on TV or movies. Even Disney movies have many crimes being commited. I guess we can't watch them now.

I guess we can't watch NASCAR as it is too confusing for new drivers.

I guess boxing is out, hockey of course, baseball beanings, basketball hard fouls...

Or we could ignore all of these things and concentrate on the alleged things that may and/or may not happen with CE.

9:50 AM

 
Blogger steakbellie said...

Great Topic
This is something my wife and I are currently dealing with. She's concerned about the example I'm setting for the kids. My sons are 7, 10 & 12 and are VERY into CE. They read Trench and like to speculate about the various eaters and they have their favs.

We talk to them about what I'm doing and I try to use it as an example of goal setting and accomplishment. They see and help me train for events like Wing Bowl and Nathans, and how I spent months testing myself every week, improving each time. I hope they can apply that part of the example to how they tackle things in their lives. Plan, Train, Attain.

They also see how sick I can get afterwards, even a day later.

I'm still torn though. I'm not just concerned with obesity but with choking, so I'm pretty heavy on them about trying to eat something fast.

My 10 year old told me he's gonna win wing bowl when he's 18, and that didnt make me feel too good....

10:18 AM

 
Anonymous Philly Guy said...

Ask my mom what its like. I've been trying to go at this since before glutton bowl. I'm probably a bad example though, even though since I'm 15-20 lbs lighter since I started eating its odd.

11:18 AM

 
Anonymous Philly Guy said...

Wow where was my grammer, thats college for ya.

11:19 AM

 
Blogger Mega Munch said...

To address the first comment from anonymous: I hear ya (and I'm on your side in defense of CE), but it’s tricky with eating.

I agree that it's weird that our culture finds it okay to watch much worst acts being committed on TV or movies or sports (though there are plenty of critics on those fronts too).

It probably has something to with eating being something we do every day so it's easier to adopt bad habits. Hard to say.

And it's tough to know what might be going through the heads of children who watch these events. If they don’t develop overeating habits as kids, they might carry those habits into adulthood. Steakbellie's concern about his son aspiring to win Wing Bowl is probably related to this.

10:49 PM

 
Anonymous Heather said...

In reference to the first post, please don't assume that I (or anyone else who has expressed the same concern about the popularity of competitive eating and its potential impact on children) have ignored any of the things that you mentioned in your comment. This blog, however, is about competitive eating - not violence and crime on TV, hence the focus of Dave's entry.

5:08 PM

 
Blogger gerberdaisy said...

as a mom and wife of someone who participates in CE, it is very strange to say the least. the kids like when dad is in the paper or when they are constntly seeing daddy get attention from" in awe" strangers. They think their dad is famous. i am still trying to figure out how i feel about the whole thing. They do see a balance though when SB exercizes like crazy to balance his eating habits.
However, it is quite humbling when the teacher asks the 10 year old "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and he responds " A professional gurgitator!" ( with the utmost of seriousness )Therefore, I figure i will be the initiator (and maybe Heather can be my vice president) of the "loved one's of compeitive eaters support group" and we can all discuss the impacts, positive/negative!!!!

6:53 PM

 
Blogger gerberdaisy said...

as a mom and wife of someone who participates in CE, it is very strange to say the least. the kids like when dad is in the paper or when they are constntly seeing daddy get attention from" in awe" strangers. They think their dad is famous. i am still trying to figure out how i feel about the whole thing. They do see a balance though when SB exercizes like crazy to balance his eating habits.
However, it is quite humbling when the teacher asks the 10 year old "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and he responds " A professional gurgitator!" ( with the utmost of seriousness )Therefore, I figure i will be the initiator (and maybe Heather can be my vice president) of the "loved one's of compeitive eaters support group" and we can all discuss the impacts, positive/negative!!!!

6:53 PM

 

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