Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

So, You Want to Be a Gladiator. When an Athletic TV Show Calls for Contestants, Our Man Decides to Try - and Reconsiders: A Sports `Postcard'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

So, You Want to Be a Gladiator. When an Athletic TV Show Calls for Contestants, Our Man Decides to Try - and Reconsiders: A Sports `Postcard'

Article excerpt

WHEN I first read the one-paragraph blurb in the paper that the TV show "American Gladiators" was holding tryouts for contestants, I half expected Peter O'Toole to show up in a toga.

As it turned out, the joke was on me. I found this out soon enough when it took me a half hour to park. I ended up in a slot seven blocks away and followed a horde of this city's best and bulgiest as they walked, in Spandex tights and tank tops, toward an asphalt lot behind a CBS studio here.

Two thousand showed up. It had to be the biggest display of pectoral pride since Jack LaLanne swam San Francisco Harbor on his 60th birthday in handcuffs and shackles while towing a 1,000-pound boat with a rope clenched in his teeth.

It shouldn't have surprised me. "American Gladiators," the TV show in which ordinary mortals go up against Mr. T types with telegenic smiles in various primal competitions, is one of the top 5 weekly syndicated series on television.

The show is sort of respectable professional wrestling. Each week lawyers, nurses, cops, and others compete in events like the "human cannonball," in which contestants swing on ropes and try to knock gladiators off elevated platforms, and the "joust," in which they pummel one other with giant Q-tips. The gladiators are the iron-torsoed regulars whom the guests compete against.

I was going to try out, but jettisoned that idea when I could find no one with an arm smaller in circumference than my thigh. More than likely I would have flunked the first test, doing 24 pull-ups in 30 seconds (women had to do seven).

Of four fitness tests, the chin-ups were the hardest. Some 80 percent never made it to the second event, the 40-yard dash, which men had to do in less than five seconds and women in less than six. After that, there was a rope climb and a sideways run.

Those who survived the boot-camp gauntlet got to play "powerball," one of the events on the show. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.