Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The Independence Day weekend has almost arrived, meaning many hot dogs will sizzle on many grills.

Sports commentator Frank Deford thinks there's a few too many hot dogs.

FRANK DEFORD: Ah, our magnificent Independence Day approaches. The Fourth of July. Flags flying, the old red, white and blue. Patriotic parades, family picnics, fireworks and, oh ugh, The Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Contest.

Can you believe it? The most celebrated event on the glorious Fourth is now a stuff-your-face, disgusting eating derby. And so, by the power vested in me, by the Federal Communications Commission, I offer dispensation for all NPR listeners with weak stomachs to turn your radio dial to something tasteful -like, say, Howard Stern - for the next couple of minutes as we digest this upsetting news.

How did this gross display of gluttony become an All-American favorite on the very day we celebrate our sacred freedom? How did jamming hot dogs in your pie-hole become accepted as a sport? Did you know that the eaters competing for the Yellow Mustard International Belt are actually called gastro-athletes?

ESPN, which knows no shame, is shamelessly showing this fine example of American exceptionalism, to a world hungry for a taste of our American way. Thus, do we even make pornography of sport.

But oh, how different it used to be. Remember when our Founding Fathers would all foregather each Fourth of July and go watch holiday doubleheaders? But the greedy national pastime doesn't schedule twin bills anymore, therefore ceding the day to piggishness. I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy is now He's a Coney Island Stuffer.

And, my fellow Americans, it gets worse. Because Takeru Kobayashi, the erstwhile champ, has been banned by MLE - that's Major League Eating. He will be speed-ingesting frankfurters at a rooftop restaurant in Manhattan, next to a large TV screen showing the certified Coney Island contestants. This is glutton creep of the worst kind.

And this hot-dog cramming only serves to give the noble wiener a bad name. In fact, when I see nitwits gorging themselves on hot dogs, it turns my stomach away from that splendid All-American foodstuff. Is that right? It's not the hot dog's fault that it's being abused by extremists. And it's a cliche, but true: Buttered popcorn doesn't improve its flavor in a movie theatre. No matter where you drink champagne from a lady's slipper on New Year's Eve, it's the same sparkle.

But when you eat a hot dog at a ball park, it is somehow gloriously transmuted into a better tasting morsel. But just one, please. Oh, well, maybe two.

INSKEEP: Commentator Frankfurter Deford joins us each Wednesday from WSHU in Fairfield, Connecticut.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Oh, Steve.

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Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford
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