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One of my very favorite events to cover during the calendar year is the Atomic City Invitational.
First of all, covering golf isn’t too stressful. As golfer Bruce Norman, who won the senior men’s competition this year, told me as he saw me buzzing along in my little golf cart in between holes, “must be tough, riding around and drinking sodas.”
Actually, I’ve always got it in the back of my mind that I need to not run over anything or anyone or get the cart into a wreck somehow. Golf carts are not the most stable of vehicular transport and I’ve seen more than one clip on “America’s Funniest Home Videos” about people rolling their carts on not-that-treacherous terrain. I certainly don’t want to look like an idiot who can’t pilot a glorified Big Wheel.
But more than that, I enjoy watching people play golf who actually know what they’re doing.
Yes, it’s true. I’m horrible at golf. I enjoy playing the game a great deal, but I stink like the midsummer breeze off the landfill. The next time I break 120 will be the first time I break 120. Yep. It’s that bad.
Plus, I get to meet some interesting people along the way. This year, I met a man by the name of Leary Lentz.
Hardcore basketball fans might remember the name. Lentz, who now resides in Austin, Texas, was a forward in the old American Basketball Association. After his days at the University of Houston, Lentz played for two seasons in the ABA, for the Houston Mavericks and New York Nets in the late 1960s.
Lentz averaged 10.7 points per game in 1967-68, his rookie season.
While Lentz’s stint in the ABA predated that of the league’s most storied alumni, Julius ‘Dr. J’ Erving, played with stars like Rick Barry and former University of New Mexico great Mel Daniels and was a college teammate of NBA Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes.
At the ACI this year, Lentz finished fourth in the senior men’s first flight.
That makes two sports he could beat me in.
Dog Days of Summer
The wackiest thing I heard about this weekend was this whole debate and subsequent arrest of Kobayashi, the great Japanese competitive eater.
Because Kobayashi refuses to sign a contract with Major League Eating, a major governing body of competitive eating, he was ineligible to participate in the Super Bowl of competitive eating, the Nathan’s hot dog contest held on Independence Day.
What is the saddest part of this whole affair, you ask? Kobayashi’s protest and subsequent arrest, along with completely out-of-proportion media coverage it got? The glorification of gluttony — hey, I like a good hot dog as much as the next out-of-shape sports reporter, but that doesn’t mean I want to cram 58 of them into my craw in 10 minutes like champion Joey Chestnut did this year — that is the Nathan’s hot dog contest?
(For the record, I’ve had Nathan’s hot dogs and I can’t say I’m all that impressed with them…Hebrew Nationals are probably the best hot dogs on the market today; barring that, there’s nothing wrong with a good ol’ Oscar Meyer.)
No, I think, by far, the saddest chapter of this novella is the fact that there is a governing body of competitive eating.
Seriously? Is competitive eating a “sport” that has now gotten so bloated and, like a bad case of acid reflux, so hard to control, that it needs a governing body? And that Major League Eating is so iron-fisted and drunk with power that only contracted representatives can take part in its events?
Now, organization’s a fine thing, but Major League Eating? No, seriously, Major League Eating?
Cram a dog in it.