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Asia Minute: Staring Contests Grow in Popularity in China

Steven Depolo / Flickr
Steven Depolo / Flickr

If you’re a sports fan, you know that it’s playoff season for Major League Baseball.  It’s also prime time for the National Football League, and pre-season for professional basketball and hockey teams.  But there’s a contest taking place in China that you might have missed. HPR’s Bill Dorman tells us about it in today’s Asia Minute.

So here’s a sport of sorts that’s not likely to make the Olympics: Staring.

Chinanews.com reports that “stare blankly” contests have been held in several cities around the country - including this past weekend in Nanjing.  The rules are simple: contestants must sit down and not move, smile or show any emotion.  It’s a battle of attrition - he or she who keeps a straight face the longest is the winner.

Chinese media report a similar contest drew more than 200 participants in Chengdu nearly a year ago -and lasted more than four hours.  There also appear to different varieties of this activity.  The official Xinhua News agency reports that 80 people took part in the “International Space Out” competition held this summer in Beijing - last years was held in Seoul.  That particular contest is limited to two hours, and you not only have to keep a straight face, you also have to keep a steady heart rate.

Back to one final twist on this past weekend’s “Stare Blankly” event.  The state-run China Dailyreports “to jazz up the proceedings, organizers have encouraged participants to wear sprouts on their head, which”—it goes on to say—“is the latest trend among young people nationwide.” 

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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