As the NCAA basketball tournaments (don't forget the women) get going, Paula Marantz Cohen
says she saw a true physical test.
I’ve been to lots of sporting events in my life, but the first bi-annual Hot Wing Competition stands apart. Here is a test of the body’s inner resources in the most literal sense — its capacity to ingest what defies the humanly ingestible. Eyes, nose, stomach, heart, lungs, and kidneys are involved, and you can see the toll taken right there in front of you, where the contestants sweat and gag, weep and bleed — all without moving an inch from the table. Take your football and your boxing, take your snowboarding and your Ultimate Fighting. For all the punishment that the athletes in these sports have to endure, the hot wing competitors take more in the way of sheer, concentrated abuse than any of them. This is sport at its most unadulterated: a combination of willpower, practiced technique, and unaccountable, serendipitous prowess. This is sport where a guy in a wheelchair who looks like he might keel over from a heart attack any minute can emerge the winner. This is sport — cleaned down to the bone.