Athletes play Rock-Paper-Scissors

    Nowadays, it seems that there is a championship tournament for everything. There are events like the World Hot Dog Eating Championships, World Beard and Mustache Championships and the Air Guitar World Championships.

    Part of this ridiculous list of “”sports”” is the Rock-Paper-Scissors International World Championships, which were held on Oct. 25 in Toronto. This annual tournament ‹ with a purse of 7,500 Canadian Dollars ($5,738.76) ‹ brought together the “”world’s premier [Rock-Paper-Scissors] players,”” according to World Rock-Paper-Scissors (RPS) Society.

    These players must be the athletes that understand how Rock-Paper-Scissors is more than a simple game of chance, right?

    For those of you who don’t know, the game is played between two people that count to three and then each deliver one of three hand signals, which include Rock (a closed fist), Paper (an open palm) and Scissors (mimicking a pair of scissors with two fingers ‹ the RPS Society gets technical about the position and angle between the fingers, but I don’t think we need to get into all that). Rock wins against Scissors, loses to Paper and stalemates against itself. Paper beats Rock, gets cut up by Scissors and draws when up against itself. Finally, Scissors beats Paper, is crushed by Rock and ties against itself.

    According to the rules of the game, each throw beats one and loses to one other, and therefore they are all equal.

    However, there are still some people who believe that the game involves strategy. These are the guys ‹ the members of the RPS Society ‹ that call themselves professional RPS players, and think there is tactical approach in a game of high-low.

    The RPS Society says one strategy of Rock-Paper-Scissors lies in the characteristics of the throws. Apparently, the Rock is conceived as an aggressive move because it is associated with fistfights, while Paper has the perception of feeble 8.5-by-11 inch documents and denotes a subtle attack. Scissors, often used to construct things, is conceived as a crafty move. So during a game, if your opponent delivers Rock, you know he is making a forceful, powerful gesture ‹ but I don’t see how that gives you better than a 33 percent of guessing his next move.

    Another strategy is learning your opponent and figuring out what he might do next. In that case, Miss Cleo might make for a good RPS player.

    The silliness of Rock-Paper-Scissors was reflected in the Oct. 26 event. The RPS Championships had referees to make sure no one threw a Roper (a half-scissor and half-paper signal), and there were precautions to prevent injury. Also, there were spectators who paid $15 for a ticket to watch something less entertaining than the fourth rerun of “”Sportscenter”” on a weekday morning.

    Wait, there’s more.

    The Oct. 26 event also featured the final rounds of the Miss RPS Competition, where women competed for the title of Miss RPS 2003 and “”the opportunity to be a role model for women in the sport everywhere.””

    Real athletes keep playing even after they lose. I’m not sure if being a professional RPS player constitutes you as an athlete, but I think some of the guys that lost in the early rounds of the tournament didn’t hesitate to start training for the World Staring Championships.

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