Hot Dogs and High Jump

     Take a look at this data from the Famous Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest:

Year               Winning Amount
1990                           16
1991                          21.5
1992                           19
1993                           17
1994                           20
1995                          19.5
1996                           22
1997                          24.5
1998                           19
1999                           20
2000                           25
2001                           50
2002                          50.5
2003                           44
2004                          53.5
2005                           49
2006                           54
2007                           66
2008                           59
2009                           68

     Look at the amount of hot dogs eaten by the winners in the 1990's.  Now look at the winning data from the 2000's.  Specifically, look at the difference in the winning numbers from 2000 to 2001.  Yipes!  What happened???  Is this data correct???  The number of hot dogs eaten jumped (tremendously) from 25 in 2000 to 50 in 2001.  How is that possible?

     The answer is Takeru Kobayashi from Japan.  He "changed the game" when it came to hot dog eating contests.  Not being from the United States, Kobayashi didn't have any preconceived notions about the way to eat a hot dog.  He knew that this contest was all about eating as fast as you can.  So he devised a new way to eat a hot dog in this contest.

     Kobayashi took the hot dog out of the bun, broke it in half, and ate the two halves together.  He just put both of the halves in his mouth at the same time.  Then he took the bun, squished it into a ball (with one hand), dunked it in water, and shoved it in his mouth--in one bite.  All together, it took him about ten seconds to eat one hot dog and bun.

     Kobayashi found a different way to eat hot dogs that no one had ever thought of before.  Up until his first appearance at the hot dog eating contest, everyone ate their hot dogs the same way and the winning amount only grew very slowly from year to year.

     The same thing happened in the world of high jumping.  For decades high jump competitors used a high jumping style called the Western Roll (or Straddle).  But in the 1968 Olympics, an American High Jumper named Dick Fosbury used a different technique.  He jumped with his back to the crossbar and went over the bar with his head first and his feet last.

     Once again, no one had ever seen this before and few people had ever tried this technique.  Within a short amount of years however, all world-class high jumper would use this technique (known as the Fosbury Flop).  It is considered far superior to the Western Roll.  Our current high jump world records would never have been achieved using the old technique.

     Dick Fosbury realized that the human limits of high jumping were quickly being reached with the Western Roll technique and he decided to look at high jumping in a completely different way.

     We often here the phrase "Work Smarter and Not Harder".  In our classrooms, we need to find a way to do things differently if we want to achieve higher results.  We can't "eat our hot dogs" any faster than we are eating them now.  We can't "jump any higher" than we are jumping now.  We can't continue to do the same things and expect better results.  We need to look at things differently.

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