Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Contest at Coney Island, Brooklyn was the venue for reigning champion Takeru Kobayashi of Japan to set a new world record with 53 3/4 hot dogs and buns eaten in 12 minutes. It's disgusting. It's not a healthy meal, but the gluttony is becoming more and more popular as a spectator sport. It is also becoming more and more legitimate with play-by-play commentary regarding off-season jaw training and analysis of varying styles of trying to eat more than 54 hot dogs in 12 minutes.
The hot dog eating contest this year was witnessed live at the original Nathan's by more than 15,000 people crammed around the corner of Stillwell and Surf Avenues while ESPN broadcast it around the world.
Contests of strength and endurance were plentiful this summer. Americans have been broadening their horizons for the past decade orso when it comes to spectating sports. This is evidenced by the popularity of two relatively obscure sports in this country that are gaining popularity: competitive eating and soccer.
The hot dog-eating may be seen as more of a novelty than a sport; but with soccer, Americans are starting to recognize what the rest of the world gets so passionate about. Bars and restaurants around New York City did a lot of publicizing and touting of their video offerings in order to draw crowds to watch the World Cup games-as well as eat and drink and celebrate with fellow enthusiasts. And it worked.
At the historic Olympic Stadium in Berlin, 76,000 ticket-holders sat safely watching and cheering the final match of the FIFA World Cup. Safety is key for soccer. Passionate fans have been known to start a riot or two in the past around the world. Now, the police don't take any chances with people getting rowdy inside or outside the arenas and there's a heavy security presence.
Evacuation announcement procedures are an important priority for the sound system. Telex knows this well as the company installed the sound system in two major World Cup arenas this year (see story page 44).
For the remaining billion people around the world watching Italy beat France 5 to 3, events were planned and people gathered in homes, bars, restaurants, streets, and arenas built to recreate the field experience. The Adidas arena in Berlin (page 58) is designed to provide the atmosphere of being at the game complete with the sound system from d&b audiotechnik.
To maintain the spirit of the games and gathering, viewing arenas providing the energy and sport fan enthusiasm are becoming more sophisticated. They might not really be there, but the arena experience is closer to the real thing.
The scene was similar across Italy: at Rome's ancient Circus Maximus- a classic spot for soccer fans in the capital-three giant screens were set up for an expected 200,000 fans.
These are a few examples among the mixed bag of sports arena snapshots this issue. From high speed car racing in Phoenix (page 52) to high school and college stadiums for live action to arenas recreating the action broadcast on big displays for very lively audiences, sports facilities are another very healthy aspect of the systems integration business. Competition is competition and whether it's hot dog swallowing or a pure and simple game of soccer, people want to gather and cheer for their favorites.