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Hot-Dogging

Two sports dynasties further cinched their televised destinies this past weekend — one a racket artist from Switzerland who merges ballet and physics when striking a ball on a tennis court, the other a digestive machine from Japan who combines precision and speed when scarfing franks. Do Roger Federer, who won his third straight Wimbledon men’s title Sunday, and Takeru Kobayashi, who handily grabbed his fifth Nathan’s Famous hot-dog-eating title on Monday, have anything in common? Do champions across sports share a visible system of winning? Federer makes his freakish shot-making look as easy as a sidewalk skip while his opponents sweat and sigh, and Kobayashi approaches the continuous shoveling of bread-and-wieners into his gullet as if he were a file clerk in a collating/stapling trance. It’s work, not lunch. At the Nathan’s event, whenever ESPN would cut to some other competitor — invariably Bigfoot-sized, sweaty and caked with saliva-riddled schmutz — you were nauseatingly reminded that eating like this is gross, and pointless, and like having your lunch booth in an unfortunate line of sight at a cafeteria. So maybe champions have a blithe eccentricity about their talents. In fact, the thin woman next to Kobayashi — American Sonya Thomas, second-best with 37 swallowed hot dogs and considered the sport’s up-and-comer — had a delightful tendency to wiggle from side to side as she ate, as if a little rhythm might alleviate what her gullet and stomach must be feeling. I’ll bet she wins one day.