Disclaimer: I am not now, nor will I ever be accused of being, an athlete. That's not modesty. It's just a sad fact.
My interest in American Ninja Warrior began when my six-year-old grandson told me with great seriousness that he no longer went to the park to play. He went there to train to be an American Ninja Warrior. I just had to see what had inspired him, and the show immediately became one I looked forward to each week.
Why? How does this festival of fitness appeal to an out-of-shape middle-aged woman more comfortable in a library than a gym?
- First, the show is good, clean fun, and I don't mean the big splashes for failed attempts. The emphasis is on healthy lifestyle and hard work. Some of the ninja athletes have made comebacks from illness, injury or tough backgrounds to be positive and successful. That success is emphasized and celebrated, no matter how many obstacles they complete.
- Next, each event is a family atmosphere. Moms and dads dye their hair to support their costumed ninja children. Babies with headphones even brave the craziness. It's a good craziness that is all cheers and no boos.
- The athletes' support of causes is another reason I love to watch. Painting his hair pink, one competitor was drawing attention to breast cancer. Another had a video shout-out to the little boy he was mentoring at home. Many use the national television audience opportunity to express their faith. All good causes are welcome on the show.
- Fourth, this is an equal opportunity athletic competition. Men and women compete on the same course, with women outshining some of the men. Athletes of every ethnicity and from each of the 50 states compete together. Their mental toughness and physical strength propel them to each new level.
- The most important reason I like the competition is the positive attitude of each ninja. Many cheer on their opponents. No matter if or when they drop from the course, they rise from the water with a smile and a serious lack of tantrums. No need for a handy bleeper button here.