I noticed on the news this morning that many viewers of The Discovery Channel’s Shark Week kickoff episode from last night featuring Michael Phelps versus a Great White shark in a water-born race feel cheated, if not outright robbed. The blowback resulted in noteworthy outrage from many viewers insomuch as Phelps wasn’t actually in the water with the aforementioned and extremely dangerous predator. He raced a far more docile computer animated shark that seemed to piss off viewers hoping for a little more violence and bloodshed (hey, I’m not naming names here). Let me say this about that…
PT Barnum once said that there’s a sucker born every minute and I’m now kicking myself for not laying some dough on the shark given the moronic levels of the general public. Was Vegas giving odds on the outcome of this race? If so, they would’ve known that a Great White is capable of speeds upwards of 30 miles per hour while Phelps’ at best, will clock in somewhere around 4 mph. This normally would’ve resulted in odds of 20 million to one in favor of Jaws (woulda been 30 million to one except that maybe some shyster decided to plant a wounded seal on the race course in order to put the fix in.) But then again it’s possible some folks assumed that this would be a land race, which largely favors Phelps even if he agreed to have a bucket full of glue draped over his head while being spun around ten times with the assurance that he won’t be pranked by being lead into the water with the supposedly land-saddled shark. (Now THERE’S a contest!)
I’m with the viewers in one respect though. Given a race between two or more humans it’s reasonable to expect that there will be some ground rules to ensure fairness and clean competition. Why not the same for sharks? I’m figuring that the head of the Olympic committee sat down with head shark to lay out a few ground rules…
Any competitor who chomps his adjoining competitor in half shall be deemed to have committed an infraction and will thus be penalized 3 seconds in their overall score. (The shark contingent probably protested this one).
Surfacing to grab seemingly helpless seagulls or any other seabird is not only frowned upon but will be severely punished with a 4 second violation. (The humans were vehemently against this clause.)
Disconcerting, unruly, undignified or intimidating comments at the start line will result in a 2 second penalty. Certainly a sensible rule, hopefully averting such man/shark commentary as:
Human: Hey Flipper! Why don’t you take your tuna-breathed, seal-eating ass down current? You stink you sunofabitch!
Shark (in response): Hey man! Why all the negative vibes? I was hoping we could get together afterward and hang for a while. All you have to do is swim out over the breakers about dusk and me and my buds will light up a party in your honor!
Having established these sound and unimpeachable rules, let the race begin!
(The shark wins)