Are Reality Competitions the New Spectator Sport?

It is time once again to talk about one of my guilty pleasures, reality television.  Wait!  Before you click away, take a moment to read the topic of my blog entry today.  I am convinced that reality show competitions are fast becoming the globe's new spectator sports fad.  Still with me?  Great, allow me to explain.

As I sit here now, typing this while watching the New York Yankees versus the Minnesotta Twins (the game is now tied, 4-4, and I'm a little disgusted because the Yanks blew a 4-0 lead in the 8th inning), my mind wanders and I am reminded that some of the best parts of shows like Survivor, Amazing Race, Big Brother, and others, are the physical challenges.  Sure, we watch those programs for the human drama on display, for the soap-opera-ish storylines, for the voyeuristic aspects of seeing allegedly real people showing allegedly real emotions, but I have come to realize that it is the competitive games within these shows that ultimately keeps me coming back for more.

Just like watching baseball, basketball, hockey, football, or soccer, I root for certain reality show contestants to win.  I boo for the villains just as much as I would for a rival professional sports team.  I cheer for the underdog the same way I would when watching the Olympics. 

The games on Reality TV are a constantly changing variety of endurance, speed, strength, dexterity, intellect, and creativity.  I sit back and watch contestants sweat it out, sometimes pushing themselves to the limit to reach their goal until the last one is standing. Even the puzzles, the ones that require more brain than brawn, are often thrilling to watch, like viewing a brilliant game of chess or strategizing which pitch will be thrown next with a no-hitter on the line. I often wonder how these folks could leave their real lives behind to appear on these shows for a chance at fame and fortune.  I certainly couldn't do it, but then again I couldn't play shortstop for the Bronx Bombers either, but I still watch.

Will the future of reality shows merge with sports, becoming twisted gladiator-style televised events, like in The Running Man or The Hunger Games or Death Race?  Those science fiction stories seem less and less farfetched as time goes by.

The Yankees are now in extra innings, so I'll log off my computer and watch the rest of the game without any further distractions.  At least I don't have to worry about Snooki crawling onto the field in a drunken stupor or Meatloaf having an insane meltdown while watching the National Pastime.