American Ninja Warrior is in it’s eighth season right now and qualifications start in another two months, but we don’t need wait until this Fall to see the regulars being professional ninjas. On Jan. 19 we get to see a new competition: Team Ninja Warrior. I am very excited to see the regular competition’s eighth season, but I am bracing myself for what might be a terrible change in the sport: Team Ninja competition. This a perversion of the original event’s function and design. The Team Ninja competition pits two athletes against each other running the same course side-by-side on identical courses. The show’s producers just Americanized ANW: it is now a ham-handed overly aggressive direct competition between two athletes. This is a total inversion of what the sport is all about. Think American Gladiator, but without a defender firing a tennis ball launcher at the athletes.
Ninja Warrior competition is about beating yourself, not your opponent. The big-money prize for completing all four stages is an incentive to compete, not the reason to compete and people would compete whether or not there were prizes involved. For the true athlete, a cash money prize is icing on the cake. The true athlete competes for honor, glory and the title of being a Ninja Warrior. Ninja competition has always been about an athlete’s struggle against him or herself and the camaraderie and brotherhood of shared competition against a common foe is what made ANW so incredible. The entire competition was about each athlete’s fight against themselves, and the greatest enemy that each of us will ever face is none other than ourselves. That’s what Ninja Warrior competition was about and what made the fans so uniquely excited: We had a glimpse into the souls of Heroes. And this is why ANW will die. In an egalitarian and anti-hierarchical society there is nothing more forbidden than showing the Common Man that there is another who is his greater.
American Ninja Warrior competition will die. The series will lose its fans, the athletes will gain corporate sponsorship and then the entire program will turn into an extended commercial to hock gym-wear, training supplements and other associated lifestyle attire. The more likely scenario is that the franchise will devolve into a strained series of obstacles designed to give equal equity to male and female competitors. The Team Ninja competition is a start of this: the male athletes will become necessary to “win it all” for the team and female failures on the course will be seen as a team failure and not a female failure. Only one woman in season seven, Michelle Warnky, qualified for Mt. Midoriyama and every other woman failed in semi-finals or finals. NBC advanced all of the failed women to Stage One at Mt. Midoriyama as “wild cards.” That’s some impressive female privilege: fail at city finals but still advance to Mt. Midoriyama to compete against everyone who made their way honestly.
Again, ANW will die because it confirms the inequality and inequity between men and women. That the series has done so for more than seven years now has amazed me, but I don’t expect it to last like this. The show is becoming more and more mainstream and more and more women are becoming involved. This means that more and more women will demand that ANW’s competitions begin to respect female limitations. American Ninja Warrior has affirmed the Traditional value of exclusivity in victory. Heroes are not, by their nature, equal to anyone else and it also would be absurd to think of Heroes as being equal even among other Heroes. The men who have made themselves a household name by their acrobatic feats and physical exploits have demonstrated that the Hall of Heroes is an exclusive club for White men. And that’s another reason ANW will die: too many White people are winning. I also secretly suspect this was the same reason that Top Shot was ended after only five seasons: It turned into a winners circle for White men (the women couldn’t compete there either…).
Women can’t compete at the level of men. This is not to demean or devalue what they are as women or what they offer to society, but they quite simply aren’t men and can’t be expected to perform like men. Women are also largely absent from our Hall of Heroes. It’s not the case that there aren’t any women there, but it is the case that I can’t think of a single one right now. Oh, wait– maybe Kacy Catanzaro. She’s all of 4’11”, 90lbs. She was the first woman to make it over the Warped Wall in qualifying and also the first woman to finish a qualifying course (2014 Dallas finals). Her performance there was incredible and she’s positively full of electricity. Go watch her 2014 and 2015 performances and I think you’ll agree. In spite of all this she didn’t make it past the second obstacle at Mt. Midoriyama Stage One in season seven. Her short height and light body weight made it incredibly hard for her to get a good jump off of the springboards and mini-trampolines. But, let’s not get too distracted by the top female competitor in Ninja sport.
The point is that even in this Kali Yuga-stage of our civilization and world life-cycle, there are still ways for men and women to prove themselves in the public eye as Heroes. We can expect these sorts of opportunities to be troubled and perverted by those who wish to see Western Civilization destroyed, and you must be able to recognize and enjoy these opportunities while they last. As steel sharpens steel, Heroes awaken Heroes and that is the reason why we should be specifically invested in raising up Heroes and properly recognizing them when they are in our midst.