I was full, exhausted, and nauseated. Before wolfing down 10 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes Wednesday at Sherman Dining Hall's hot dog-eating contest, I had never pushed my body to the limit like I did that day. That includes every time I have played basketball, tennis, football, you name it. Following this traumatic experience, I finally felt prepared to settle an age-old debate: Is competitive eating a sport? After fully digesting the situation, I say it is.As the reigning watermelon and matzo-ball eating champion of Brandeis, it is hard for me to answer objectively. However, I will begin with a neutral source: the American Heritage Dictionary. There, the noun "sport" connotes: an activity involving physical exertion and skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often undertaken competitively.

We must first examine whether competitive eating involves physical exertion. Critics insist that eating is not a sport due to a lack of movement.

"There is not much physical involvement in eating since you are either sitting in place or standing in place, and you don't really get your heart rate going," Ethan Palmer '10, who competed in Wednesday's hot dog contest, said.

Jeremy Heyman '08, who participated in watermelon and cereal-eating contests at Sherman last year, agreed: "There is no exercise or athleticism involved."

To these doubters, I say this: Golf is performed solely standing in place. Does that disqualify it as a sport?

But forget that for a second. There is certainly movement and physical exertion involved in eating.

Daniel Baron '09, who competed in hot dog and watermelon contests at Sherman last year, explains:

"[In competitive eating] I had to pace my breathing and I had to move around a lot to try to get the food down," he said. "It is a sport because it is physical."

You can't walk into a competitive eating contest and be successful by remaining stationary and not pushing your body to the limit. My entire body, not just my stomach, felt the physical wrath Wednesday.

But a stronger challenge against eating as a sport is the fact that it is not often engaged in competitively. Rather, it is an everyday activity that is accelerated during competition.

To that challenge, I say this: Driving is done daily, but auto racing is widely considered a sport. Running is also routinely performed. Is anyone going to tell me that track isn't a sport? Of course it is, since the running of track professionals is so much faster than the norm that those who participate are considered athletes.

The same goes for competitive eating. Yes, eating is an ordinary activity, but professionals do it so well that it must be a sport.

Consider Takeru Kobayashi of Japan, who on July 4, broke his own record by downing 53 and 3/4 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes. Are you prepared to say that this is not an athletic feat?

Jordan Rothman '09, who won Wednesday's hot dog contest at Sherman, besting me by 2.5 hot dogs, and is also a member of the Brandeis indoor track team, approaches both of these activities similarly.

"I have the exact same mentality when preparing for either track or competitive eating," Rothman said.

"The same type of endurance, concentration and preparation that are involved in any athletic endeavor can be found in competitive eating."

But how far must competitive eating go to finally gain the respect it deserves in the sports world? Must Kobayashi eclipse 100 hot dogs in 12 minutes for people to give him his due as an athlete? At least in my mind, competitive eating is a certified sport. And Kobayashi is my Michal Jordan.