July 4th Travesty: Joey Chestnut's Annual Hot Dog Beatdown to Be Tape Delayed!

First and foremost, I want to wish a very happy Independence Day to all of the people who read this blog and listen to my radio show, and more than anything else pay thanks and tribute to all of our troops past, present, and future who protect our freedom. Their bravery and sacrifice is exemplary.

The fourth of July is most certainly about celebrating all that is great about our country, and one of the great things about our country is that we are not afraid to flaunt our gluttony, obesity, and general waste when it comes to food. We wear it like a moumou dress.

If there is one event that encapsulates our collective Olympic level gorging, that serves as a big huge frankfurter shaped middle finger to the terrorists, it's the annual 4th of July Nathan's Hot Dog Eating contest in Coney Island, NY.

Going back several years now, the contest has been a staple of mid day television watching on our nation's birthday (at least for me it's been). If I'm at a barbecue or a pool party at someone's ouse, I make sure to gather everyone at the shindig around the tube so we can watch the next chapter in competitive eating history get written in yellow mustard before our very eyes.

How do we know the Nathan's hot dog eating contest has crossed over into an actual sporting event? You can place wagers on it! (The quintessential litmus test, by the way -- if you can bet on something, it matters.)

Seriously, tell me that you don't get chills watching five time Nathan's champion Joey Chestnut finally wrest the title from the clutches of the evil Kobayashi for the first time back in 2007. If you say you don't have goose bumps, you're lying. No, really, if you're not tingly YOU'RE the one with the problem, junior!

This, by the way, continued a long standing July 4 tradition of American icons vanquishing evil Japanese antagonists. Who can forget Lex Luger defending our collective honor on the USS Intrepid by body slamming the nefarious Yokozuna back in 1993?

Also, who can forget that other time with the Japanese.....well, actually those are the only two. Ever. And actually Yokozuna was Samoan in real life. But...where was I again? Oh yeah, the eating contest.

Well, despite the Nathan's hot dog eating contest becoming a July 4 tradition on the level of sparklers, watermelon, and your drunk Uncle Andy passing out under the oak tree, despite the degenerate wagering public being able to slap down a sawbuck on Chestnut OVER 62 hot dogs eaten", ESPN will be running the Nathan's contest on tape delay later in the afternoon this year. Even worse, their pushing back the telecast of our nation's annual wiener fest so they can show tennis -- TENNIS!! -- from Wimbledon, which emanates from England, whose ass we kicked 236 years ago so that we could celebrate July 4 in the first place!

Some of you will say I'm taking this too personally, and that may well be. After all, I finished tenth in the annual Kolache Factory eating contest in 2007, which according to eatfeats.com, is enough to define me as a professional eater.

But dammit, I won't stand by and watch a huge thread in the tapestry of our July 4 experience be yanked loose by shoddy programming decisions! ESPN will counter your, nay OUR dissatisfaction (you're with me, right?) by telling us that they will run the live feed on the internet on ESPN3.com. Phhssh, BIG DEAL. While it could be worse (They could put it on the Longhorn Network, which means nobody would see it.), the live internet stream is not good enough.

On our nation's birthday, it's time we band together, make sure ESPN hears our pleas, and support a true American hero...FREE JOEY CHESTNUT!!

Or at least televise his annual colon stretching exploits on LIVE TV. USA! USA! USA!

Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast