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Thursday, July 6, 2006
Updated: July 7, 11:09 AM ET
Breaking new wind

By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2

Soon, competitive farting and belching will be a televised sport.

Seriously, men of all shapes, sizes and colors will flatulate and belchulate for money, and their ability to do so will be a hot topic on "Around the Horn."

You think I'm crazy, don't you? You think I'm just writing this to be funny?

Not true. Farting and belching is one of the last frontiers for televised sports. I predict the NFBL -- the National Fart and Belch League -- will be formed in the next five years and land its first TV contract before 2015. Some lucky newspaper sports columnist will earn a six-figure salary and a huge endorsement deal with Van Camp's Pork and Beans for serving as color commentator. Star Jones Reynolds has already agreed to do play-by-play.

You say farting and belching are not sports. I say you're unaware of the new-millennium, HDTV definition of sport. Anything men enjoy doing that is remotely competitive and can produce ad revenue is sport.

How else do you explain the fame and fortune garnered by Takeru Kobayashi, the reigning six-time champion of the Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest?

Just this week, on our nation's birthday, Kobayashi set a world record, devouring 53¾ hot dogs in 12 minutes to retain his title. Kobayashi's eating prowess and heavily muscled, lithe and six-pack-abs frame make him the star of the International Federation of Competitive Eating. MTV filmed a documentary of Kobayashi's life.

His ability to earn a living eating any and everything in excess, retain a shirtless-in-public body and acquire a rep as a world-class athlete makes him the envy of every American man.

But I say don't be jealous. Soon, every American man will have the opportunity to become a relatively wealthy sports star/celebrity by competing in a leisurely act we'd normally do every day for free.

Ever heard of Texas hold 'em or dominoes? They're both televised sports, right along with bass fishing, bowling, skeet shooting, auto racing, golf and arguing about sports.

Look, if you can come up with a way to keep score, we'll come up with a way to define it as sport. It's really not that hard. I looked up the definition of "sports" on the Internet: "A physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively."

As a kid, I played football, basketball and track and field at a high level. I dabbled in baseball, bowling, tennis, fishing and golf. I can honestly say that I was far more competitive about farting, belching and eating than I was baseball, bowling, tennis, fishing and golf.

I dominated my older brother in the fart game, the art of breaking wind as loudly as possible, as close to someone's face as possible and escaping without getting punched. Now, we never kept a scoreboard, but I defy anyone to debate me on the merits of the fart game as sport and highly effective cardiovascular training.

If poker can become one of America's hottest sports, why can't belching and eating? Why not anything men enjoy doing?

So Wednesday night, with the help of a couple of female friends, I came up with a top-10 list of potential new "sports" TV shows, things men are competitive about and enjoy doing. If any of these show up on cable TV, I'll sue the network for compensation.

10. Scoring phone numbers in bars: This is easy and a natural. You take 10 guys and set them free in five different nightclubs -- a country bar, a sports bar, a white dance club, a mixed-race dance club and a black dance club -- for an hour each. They work each club for names and phone numbers. The next day, you film the guys calling the numbers, and the guy scores points based on whether the number is legit, whether she returns the call, whether she remembers him and whether she agrees to a date.

9. Shoulder to cry on: It's a game every man plays at one time in his life, but it's mainly preferred by the weak. Men pretend to be the sensitive, warm, caring friend to their buddy's girlfriend, hoping she tires of his buddy's manipulation and lying and chooses the shoulder she's been crying on for months. This is more of a reality TV show.

8. Beer bonging: As impressive as Kobayashi is, I've never seen anything as impressive as my high school friend, Chris, who as a teenager could down a six-pack of Old Milwaukee in a giant bong. Chris was 6-foot-3, 190 pounds and played tight end on the football team. He was the Tiger Woods of drinking.

7. Porn trivial pursuit: I'm always amazed at how many of my friends know the names and detailed résumés of the actresses in the adult-film industry. If ESPN ever wants to do an adult version of "Stump the Schwab," I've got a couple of friends who could easily play the role of Howie Schwab.

6. Quoting scenes from a movie: This could be a spinoff of the "Scoring Numbers" show. You take the most nerdy guys from "Scoring Numbers," show them interacting with women at a bar and just keep a running tally on how many times they use a classic line from a popular movie in an attempt to be funny.

5. Playing the dozens: OK, some network might already be doing this. I might've seen it on BET. But get a group of dudes to square off in a smack-talk contest. I'd put 'em in a ring and let 'em diss each other until someone took a swing. The first guy to throw a punch is the loser.

4. Liar, liar pants on fire: This would actually make a good coed sport, because I'm not sure which sex is the more skilled liar. Guys are indiscriminate about their lying. We lie about everything. Women lie mostly to protect the illusion of virtue and morality. You could pit couples in a lie-off. Let 'em come in and confess the biggest lies they ever told each other and let America vote on which one is the bigger fool.

3. Farting: A good pot of pinto beans and maybe a little con queso dip is all you need for this show.

2. Belching: Really cheap show. You film it at the same time as the beer bong show.

1. Cheap sex: This is a blockbuster. You only let average-looking, non-celebrity guys play this game. You turn 25 guys loose in a Vegas hotel and casino for one month. You give 'em $1,000 and a cell phone with 500 minutes. That's all the money and phone access they get for a month. No e-mail. No text messaging. The man with the most sexual conquests at the end of the month is the winner.

Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for The Kansas City Star. He can be reached by e-mail at ballstate68@aol.com. Sound off to Page 2 here.