International Speed Dating Champion   Leave a comment

With the Olympics well and truly over, and baseball season still off in a spring that, like payday, is as far away as the stars in the sky (FIMBULWINTER!), it seems to me that there aren’t many good sporting activities available for those who watch sports.  I don’t watch sports myself, at least not very often, but I do sympathize with those who are caught in a bit of a void at the moment.  I imagine it’s like how I feel when I reach the end of a webcomic archive and can’t read any more no matter how often I hit the Next button.  However, one sport that I’ve heard of is this phenomenon called speed dating and it may be the thing that can fill the void now that there aren’t other sports to watch.  Those I’ve asked say that there are never many spectators as it “isn’t a spectator sport, John” but it seems to me that all it takes for something to become a spectator sport is for, well, spectators to show up and begin spectating.

Admission should be charged, of course.  I believe the victor’s purse is currently created by having the competitors each pay an entry fee at the beginning of every tournament, and while I applaud those who love the game so much that they’re willing to pay their own way to playing (while also making sure costs are met to keep the sport alive), I believe that this is a burden which can, in time, be passed on to those who will soon become fans.  Ideally, the competitors will receive their greatest payment not from the victor’s purse, but from sponsorships.  Their winnings will come from companies who want their product associated with them, and the viewers will be paying for the venue through admission; after that, royalties for the victor’s purse won’t have to be paid to the estate of Victor S. Purse anymore (despite everything he’s done for the history of sports in general, I think it’s ludicrous that his family gets a cut of every victor’s purse ever.)

I confess that I’m not entirely certain how people keep score at Speed Dating Tournaments; in baseball I know the prize is for running around a diamond and in football (and American football as well) the prize is for carrying a ball beyond a certain threshold.  Speed dating has no ball, and there isn’t any real running, although there is a sort of pacing action between all the various rounds of the game.  In this fashion it’s a bit more like a cross between a Chess tournament and a Tennis tournament, wherein the rules are archaic and the “winner” of the overall tournament might not necessarily be the one to win individual rounds.  I’ve been told that people receive “matches” at these things… matches as in pairings, not challenges and not little pieces of wood used to set fire to things… and I believe that the winner of a tournament is the one who receives the most matches.

Here’s where my understanding of speed dating rules truly becomes foggy, though: I don’t really know how they decide who wins in a tie.  Is it a shared victory?  That doesn’t seem likely, as even golf has a winner, a sport where people generally compete against themselves.  When asking my friends again, they say “What do you mean?  Shared victory?  What?”  as if I was totally off base.  Not wanting to appear like a simpleton I wisely changed subject.

Speaking of golf, though, I think that the audience would be a bit like golf or tennis.  The funereal silence of a chess tournament’s audience seems inappropriate for the relatively light-hearted game of Speed Dating, and so when you begin attending speed dating tournaments as an audience know that polite clapping isn’t the worst of ideas.  Save your regular applause for the time between matches, though; as casual as Speed Dating may appear to the outside observer, the competitors are often concentrating on their opponent and on their own strategy, and it’s polite not to interrupt them.  Boisterous vocalizations should almost certainly be saved for the conclusion of the tournament when the winner is clear.  As in all sports, good sportsmanship is called for and at the end of the match the competitors should thank each other for a good game.

Don’t expect to buy popcorn or hot dogs at any events you attend.  The sport isn’t big enough yet to have its own dedicated venues, and currently makes do with cafes and other local spots that generally offer their own food.  The upside is that what food you buy is almost certainly going to be of higher quality.  I mean, would you rather buy a three dollar soft pretzel or a six dollar Panini?  Sometimes the pretzel, sure, but generally I’ll take the Panini instead.

Believe it or not, most speed dating champions don’t see it as their entire career, instead having day jobs that they fall back upon.  This means that the sport as a whole is actually viable for the Olympics, though it’s probably not one we’ll see any time soon.  For now, though, that’s my recommendation to those looking for good sports to watch during these frosty final days of winter.

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