Kenny Blankenship got a raw deal.
In the beginning, there was Takeshi's Castle. As a cultural ambassador of Nichibeikankei Dr. Blankenship (not a real doctor, shh) shepherded MXC (Spike TV) to America, serving as the Hank Aaron of transplanted re-dubs… and hilarity of the face-plant variety. Once the gates were open, Wipeout! (ABC) bounced their big red balls all over the American boob tube, followed by this crazy challenge only a few athletes ever completed, Sasuke, rebranded as Ninja Warrior (G4, Esquire, NBC).
Seeing the great success ANW has had, Spartan Race launched into multiple shows on NBC, BattleFrog Series developed 2 for ESPN, and now Tough Mudder is piloting their own shows with CBS. American Ninja Warrior in-turn launched Team Ninja Warrior, and are in talks for Kacy's Kitchen – Warped Wall Treats with America's Sweetheart* and there's nary a Blankenship among the bunch.
America's Wonder Women
5 Must-See Women's OCR TV Moments
- Mighty Kacy makes history at the Dallas ANW Finals!
- Meagan Martin becomes the first woman to complete the ANW course three years in a row.
- Jessie Graff trounces most of the ANW men at the '16 LA finals
- Maggie Thorne & Cassidy Watton commanding their team on the Spartan Slip Wall
- Rose Wetzel-Sinnett & Natalie Duran take on Hunter & Rocket in Ninja Quickie
Of course, this is but a tiny list compared to the day-in, day-out ass-kicking performances by female athletes in OCR and every other sport across the globe. Want to see international OCR Superstars compete on a short course? We did that last year on OCR Warrior at the OCR World Championships! OCR athletes have totally rocked other shows from Boundless, to
American Ninja Warrior is Not Fair to Women
There, I said it. It's stupid to have obstacles that are impossible for a 5′ tall woman to complete, so why even have it at all? Huge props to Meagan for passing Jumping Spider in 2014, but she's taller than a bunch of the guys on the course (and me too!). Forget my Wonder Women idea on ABC for a moment, just think of the excitement NBC could build by creating a men's and women's Ninja Warrior show and then bring them back together for the Team Ninja Warrior show! Still thinking? Good, because it will totally rock, and give depth to their stories. I'm also in-favor of a NBA/WNBA All-Star game too, but that's another story for another time.
Of course, I'm fully supporting Evan Dollard to host along with Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, Gabby Reece would make a stellar on-course commentator.
What if Your Sports Hero Is a Woman?
America fell in love with Mighty Kacy overnight, and as a friend I couldn't be more thrilled by her success – that's why it pisses me off that she'll never complete an ANW course with spans that defy her height. Flashback to the Pole Grasper in 2014 when Kacy used every inch of her 5′ frame and ounce of strength in her body – not to mention an a competitive gymnastics background – to get through an obstacle that seemed nearly impossible before she defeated it. Grit, determination, strength, skill, and tenacity were all on fully embodied in MIghty Kacy that night (and many others), but even with her success, A. Smith producers seemed to treat women as an anomaly to be hyped vs. the stalwarts of the show that they really are. I dare say Mighty Kacy brought more eyeballs to the show over the past 2 years than any other athlete, even when everyone knew she was destined to fail on her quest to climb Mt. Midoriyama.
I say give women a chance to shine as the stars of the show, with a challenging course designed for grace & flexibility and not just strength and size. That previous statement was really a bit of hyperbole, all of the OCR/Ninja women above most likely have a higher strength/weight ratio than their male counterparts, but I'm on a roll here. Highlight these amazing athletes in their OWN SHOW, and let's see what develops from there. My guess? A ratings bonanza.
Who knows, your new sports here might just be a woman – a Wonder Woman, that is.
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