Some TV sports draw rock-happy fans

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Amid all those televised bowl games, this competition was something different.

It had referees and its share of cheering fans. But there was no pigskin in this New Year's weekend contest. In fact, there was no ball of any kind.

It was the championship of the Rock-Paper-Scissors game. This was no child's play. There were thousands of dollars at stake.

My wife, Joni, couldn't believe I would watch something so ridiculous. But earlier on the same cable channel, there was the Glutton Bowl which had everything to do with bad eating habits and nothing to do with football.

I couldn't bear to watch the Glutton Bowl. But Rock-Paper-Scissors at least involved some mental calisthenics.

As it turned out, the eventual champion wasn't a crowd pleaser. He was roundly booed. But unlike NBA games, there were no fights.

Being a veteran reporter, I decided to do my homework via the Internet.

I discovered there is a World RPS Society which has all the answers when it comes to this sport.

According to the society, every culture claims to have invented RPS.

The society says more people have played RPS than any other game in the world.

It's only a matter of time until the sport becomes a central factor in some TV reality show.

But personally I think the sport would be more marketable if contestants used real rocks, paper and scissors. It would give new meaning to a crushing defeat, particularly in the heavyweight division where contestants would use boulders.

None of this makes much sense, but then neither does playing a bowl game in late December in Boise, Idaho.

Cape Girardeau may be too small a community to compete for a bowl game. But the convention and visitors bureau could look at bidding for the Rock-Paper-Scissors championship. If we lose out on that competition, there's always the Glutton Bowl.

In America, anything can be a sport. You don't even need players.

The National Hockey League lockout has proved that point. One cable channel has been showing highlights of simulated Blues hockey games with all the scoring done by computer-generated images of hockey players.

In this scenario, the Blues are having a better season than they've ever had on real ice.

Even my daughters love simulated sports.

Our whole family has taken to computer bowling where a small camera puts you right into the action on your television screen. With your hands, you try to aim the computerized image of a bowling ball as it rolls down the lane toward the pins.

With digital technology, I'm a whole lot better bowler than I am in a real bowling alley.

Professional hockey players should take note. Sooner or later, the National Hockey League will realize it doesn't need real players, just interactive computer games to grab an audience.

And for those fans who still want to see real people sweat, there is always the Rock-Paper-Scissors competition.

It's almost as exciting as curling, which is a popular Canadian sport that involves sliding stones across ice.

At any rate, it's nice to know as we embark upon a new year that some sports don't need instant replay, just a quick hand.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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