Thursday, July 12, 2007

"The Rock Paper Scissors National Championship"

Skip to the random thought

ESPN must really be struggling to fill their summer programming lineup. So much so that last week, they showed something called the "Rock Paper Scissors National Championship". But is that really surprising? Their trend of late has been to get away from actual sports and show more stuff like this. Poker, competitive eating, original movies, the ESPYs, you name it. What happened to the good old days of Australian Rules Football and the NHL? (Speaking of which, why doesn't an upstart sports network like Versus pick up Australian Rules? Then again, even if they did, most of you still wouldn't be able to watch it.) ESPN seems more interested in promoting crap like "Bonds On Bonds" than showing you live sports anymore. And that's too bad. Ah, well, only a few more weeks until Thursday Night College Football resumes.

That said, I had to watch this Rock Paper Scissors nonsense. I recorded it on the TLD over the weekend and watched it on Tuesday. Your host? Trey Wingo, a respected ESPN anchor. How did they convince him to do this? I doubt he really wanted to. He sounded rather disinterested the whole show, while the color commentator was really into it, of course. He was an RPS "expert" who really came across as more of a caricature of the whole event. Whether that was by design or not, I don't know. It was really hard to figure out if they were trying to make fun of it, or really chronicle it as an event. They were kind of in-between. Is this a serious event, or is it a joke? ESPN didn't lean one way or the other. The telecast would have been far more enjoyable if they were clearly on one side or the other. Another thing I didn't care for during the telecast was the predictable player background stories. It wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't just their excuse to show attractive women on the screen more often. (Not that there's anything wrong with attractive women, of course. But I wasn't watching this for eye candy.)

So, what's the deal, anyway? Well, apparently Bud Light has been promoting a nationwide RPS tournament, and these were the finals. I (vaguely) remember participating in an RPS tournament at a bar in State College one night. Whether or not that was part of this tournament, I'm not sure. (It would have had to have been last year's tournament, though. The tournament I watched this week was the 2nd annual.) But, 128 people made the finals. The matches were structured this way: 2 games wins a set, and 2 sets wins a match. So, if you beat the other guy four straight times, you win. If you lose three straight times, you have to win the next two, and then two of the next three after that. They're fairly short matches. So when the color commentator talked about "fatigue" because one guy had a longer last match than the other guy, I don't know if I buy that. Mental fatigue may factor in a single match, if one guy gets frustrated because he keeps tying the other guy.

What kind of strategy is there? Well, the way I see it, the first throw is random. Beyond that, it's trying to figure out if the other guy is going to repeat his throw, or think you would repeat his last throw, or what. But given how short the matches are, it's luck. Quit kidding yourselves, guys. Poker is luck, but there's certainly skill involved too. One guy did seem to have a decent strategy in the PSR tournament, though. Before each throw, he would say something that started with either the letter "P", "S", or "R". (Example: "Rock and Roll!") The idea is, by doing that, the other guy is more likely to throw whichever item begins with that letter. So if you say "Rock and Roll", you should throw paper, anticipating rock. This guy made the finals, but I guess the other guy caught on, and he couldn't keep up the strategy. Instead, he pretty much went random. Now, everyone who watched that show will probably try to do that next time they take on someone in RPS. You've been warned...

Another possible strategy ploy is to try to pick up the player's hand motion. If he always does the same motion when throwing paper, then when you pick it up, you should audible to scissors. But you can't pick up that sort of thing in a short match. If each contestant had a "scouting report", then maybe there would be some strategy involved. For example: "This guy throws 50% rock." "This guy only repeats his throw 10% of the time." "This guy repeats the other guy's throw 45% of the time." Instead, nobody knew anything about anybody, and it was just a crap shoot. I appreciate that the color commentator tried to make us think there was strategy involved, but in an event like this, I don't think so. Except for the afore-mentioned "Rock and Roll" guy, I don't think anyone had an effective strategy. And even his day spelled doom in the end, as it did all of the other "favorites".

I guess the official name is "Rock Paper Scissors". I've always called it "Paper Scissors Rock". Many others call it "Paper Rock Scissors". I don't know, to me, it just seems like the one-syllable word should go last. Apparently, most others think the plural word should go last. (There are probably also the same people that call it "Eckerds" and "Ruby Tuesdays".) Either way, the disagreement on the order of the words kind of goes back to the concept of the game, doesn't it? All items are equal, and there is no hierarchy.

Well, whatever you call this game, I don't think I'll be watching this next year.

Last Year: "See You in 47 Months". I wasn't too thrilled about how last year's World Cup ended, so I took my frustration out on soccer in general. Also, random thought #1 talks about which states require a front license plate and which do not. These days, I would make that into an entire blog post, but back then, it was just random thought #1.

Tomorrow: "Which Way?" We have many route choices when driving. With my stopwatch, I have figured out the best ones. This post will cover route choices from Jacksonville to State College, and many places in between.

Today's random thought:

- I drove through Bojangles' the other day and ordered "the usual". (Well, Amber was driving, but that's beside the point.) Normally, my three piece dinner comes with a leg and two thighs. But this time, it came with three thighs! An "all-white" dinner is supposed to cost extra, but this dinner was the same price as always. So did they screw up, or what? I don't know. I can normally finish a one leg/two thigh dinner (plus fries and biscuit), but I guess three thighs is too much. I couldn't finish it.

No comments: