Kobayashi: Famous Eater Won't Make Crif Dog Classic Relevant

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2012

NEW YORK - JULY 4:   Chairman of Major League Eating George Shea (L) speaks as Takeru Kobayashi (C) of Nagano, Japan and Patrick 'deep dish' Bertoletti (R) look on after Joey Chestnut of San Jose, California defeated them in the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest on July 4, 2009 in Coney Island in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  Chestnut defeated Kobayashi with eating 68 to his 64.5 hotdogs. Kobayashi won six previous competitions before tying last year with Chestnut.  (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
Yana Paskova/Getty Images

The Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, contested each year on the Fourth of July, is the perfect metaphor for our nation's birthday.

It's fiercely competitive, it's quirky in nature, it's become a revered tradition and it involves disgusting amounts of excess in the way of overeating, which is about as 21st Century as it gets here in the States.

For all of the reasons, it's hard to see how Kobayashi's Crif Dog Classic—a separate hot-dog eating contest on the Fourth of July set to compete with the Nathan's event—can possibly carve its own niche of relevance.

It's no more competitive, no more quirky, it has no tradition and unless you believe Kobayashi set the world record by eating 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes on some rooftop last year, there won't be any additional eating, either.

So why bother?

Well, it's mostly because Kobayashi doesn't want to be forced to sign an exclusive contract to participate in the original event. From Josiah Schlatter of Off the Bench:

Nathan’s has made contestants sign exclusive rights contracts that would only allow eaters to compete in certain ‘league sanctioned’ events, something Kobayashi and his associates fiercely oppose. But they went with the program for nine years, until in 2010 things changed and Kobayashi decided to take a stand. He didn’t sign the contract, and Nathan’s kicked him out. Never mind that he helped create a competitive eating empire in the mid-2000′s with his showmanship and pure talent.

I can't say I blame Kobayashi in that regard. But it is a shame that it keeps us from seeing what should be the finest competitive eating rivalry of all time—no, I can't believe I just typed those words either—between Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut.

And it's hard to imagine the Crif Dog Classic catching on like the Nathan's event has. The whole thing feels like the XFL or The Cleveland Show, imitations and spin-offs nobody really wanted and nobody really needed.

I wish Kobayashi well in his bid to take down the Nathan's event, or at least to steal some of its thunder. Unfortunately for him, I don't see that happening.

Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets want Dwight Howard to just get traded already, too.

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