There are a whole host of ‘sports’ which I am baffled actually attract live crowds. Golf is one; you watch tubby middle-aged men wander aimlessly around a nice run of grass, smacking around a tiny white ball that you can’t even see, yet somehow people stand twenty-deep behind those little rope fences. Car racing is another one; all you can do is hear the things screaming around the track, they’re flying past at 350 km/h and you can’t even see a thing except for the split second this metallic multi-coloured blur flies past the corner you happen to be standing on.
The third, and the focus of this post, is weightlifting. Sure it’s impressive that a big roided-up meathead can pick up some stupendously heavy thing, but it is justifiable as a spectator sport? Weightlifting competitions seem to be 90% straining, grunting, heaving, yelling, neck-vein-bulging and perilously close incidents of near-farting, with around 10% of the time actually seeing guys actually lift the big thing they’re standing in front of.
Which comes to the World’s Strongest Man comp, which was won this week by American beefcake Brian Shaw who claimed the crown by (sort of) picking up this comically huge weight off the ground. The weights on the end of that bar just look absolutely ridiculous, especially in comparison to that toothpick of a bar that is supporting them. The guy grunts and groans in front of a mysteriously Asian-saturated crowd, before lifting the bar to his knees, which is apparently enough to be crowned “world’s strongest man.” That achievement almost seems like the AFL-behind school of thought of sports achievement – “oh yeah, that’ pretty close. That’ll do, good effort mate.”