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Wednesday March 14, 2007 6:12 pm

An Open Letter To Future Amazing Racers

Rob and AmberFirst of all, congratulations.  Also, I’m a little annoyed with you since I applied for the show a while ago with what I thought was a great hook of an idea, and didn’t get picked.  I don’t think your little thing that makes you special is better than my … oh, you do?  You just have the one … ?  And your partner, she’s never … ?
Okay, fine, yours is better.  As long as you’re not dating models, or dating actors, or actors/models who were formerly dating.  And so on.
Good luck on the Race, which is easily my favorite reality show (sorry Survivor) (And I Love New York) (And … you know, let’s move on), but please remember one major thing before you set out on your Phil-directed race around the world:
It’s a race, which means whoever gets to the finish line first wins.

I know that you think that you know that already; I mean, it seems like it’s the most obvious thing in the world to me, but I’ve noticed the past few years that a lot of the actual Amazing Racers don’t quite see it that way.  They have come to believe that it’s the Amazing Moral Superiority Race, and it’s just not so.
To explain: Rob and Amber are out of the Amazing Race All Stars Edition because they finished last in the fourth leg, not, I repeat, NOT because they are horrible people to whom the universe and the gods of the Race gave their just desserts.
I may be in the minority here, but I don’t hate Rob and Amber with the burning intensity of a thousand white-hot suns.  I’m … well, if anything I’m bored with Rob and Amber.  They keep showing up on reality shows I watch (but I don’t watch their show about Rob becoming a poker player, because even I have my limits, in spite of what I just said about watching “I Love New York”) and I think it’s about time to get some new blood in there.  When Rob and Amber lost this week and Rob said he was sorry he wouldn’t be racing anymore, I’m sure that I wasn’t the only person on the planet who thought Rob was also sorry he wasn’t going to be on TV anymore.  At least on CBS from 8-9 every Sunday.
Still, if Rob and Amber had not lost this leg, if they had won they whole thing even, I wouldn’t have been angry.  Bored, sure, but not angry.  Why?  Because that means they wouldn’t have come in last, which is enough.  Because, as I said before, it’s a race.
When you’re putting on your dorky headlamp, future Amazing Racers, when you’re telling a cab driver who doesn’t speak English that he needs to go faster, when you’re running up to greet the arched eyebrow of Phil, remember that it’s skill, it’s speed, it’s brains, it’s a lot of luck, and it isn’t at all about morality.
Morality has nothing to do with a game.  Do you think that when Notre Dame plays Holy Cross in hockey (it’s happened before, I just googled it) that nobody checks anybody to the board or does everything they can to win the game because it would be morally wrong?  Hell (no pun intended), I played on a volleyball team for my church growing up and I never hesitated to go in for the kill against Good Shepherd United Methodist.  And I’m dealing with actual religious-affiliated institutions here, not random pairs of people traveling the globe on CBS’ dime.
In a game, the only real immorality is cheating.  If you cheat, that’s bad, and if you don’t get called on it, that’s even worse.  But that’s it.  If a game says you can lie to other players, then lying is not immoral in the game.  Cops are allowed to lie to suspects in interrogations, but Amber’s not allowed to lie to Mirna about finding a clue?  If you do whatever you can, WITHIN THE RULES, to win a game, you’re not a bad person.  You’re a competitor.
Please, future Racers, don’t take lessons from the Charlas and Mirnas, the Dave and Marys, and the (unfortunately this week) the Uchennas and Joyces of past Amazing Races.  Rob and Amber made bad decisions about the detour, they had a cab that didn’t get them there as fast as the other, and they had the more upset team member (that is, Rob) do the roadblock when it should have been the calmer one (that is, Amber).  They made mistakes, and because of those mistakes (and the fact, per my lovely fiancée, that Rob is so obsessed with being first instead of just not being last that his team got cocky and screwed up) they came in last.  God and fate and karma and all that fun stuff didn’t have anything to do with it.  A better analyzer of reality shows than I has noted that God doesn’t do, among other things, reality television.
So, Racers of the Future, run as fast as possible, read those directions carefully, and do everything in your power (without cheating) to win that million bucks.  If your fellow contestants gets up on their high horses and asks you why you did something they consider sketchy, tell them, “Um … it’s a race.”
And when they babble on about how you can still race with morals and how they were brought up and that you’re a criminal and all that fun stuff, tell them that you’ll agree to race with “integrity,” (whatever that means in this case), if they agree to let you win.
If they won’t follow your rules, don’t follow theirs.
Give Phil my best,

David L. Williams

David L. Williams contributes three stories per week to TV Envy.

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