I don't share my husband's love of war movies, but I love American Ninja Warrior. It's a good reason for families to turn on the TV (or set the DVR).
I'd never even heard of the series until my 9-year-old daughter told me she'd seen an episode at a friend's house. "Huh? Ninja warrior what?" I asked. "Trust me," she said. We watched it together, and we were instantly hooked. The finals continue tonight and the finale is scheduled for September 15 on NBC.
If you don't know, American Ninja Warrior is modeled after the long-running Japanese show, Sasuske, and involves an incredibly difficult obstacle course. In the last 30 years, only three Japanese competitors have ever completed the four-stage course modeled after the famed Mt. Midoriyama in Japan, but no Americans have.
This is the first year that any women have made it to the finals. I was so amazed and impressed by Kacy Catanzaro, who became a social media sensation. In our office, we decided that watching the video recap of her performance in the Dallas city finals should be a drinking game: You have to drink every time one of the commentators mentions that Kacy is a woman or that she's only five feet tall. As a vertically-challenged woman myself, I was disappointed when she failed in the finals because her arms simply were not long enough for the "jumping spider."
But so many competitors had amazing backstories, and each one had trained so hard for so long. Hours and hours at the gym, challenging themselves to do crazy-hard feats. I was struck in particular by the video about Yen Chen, who had been seriously depressed after his mother died but fought back to health and started rock climbing to overcome his fear of heights.
Dreams of victory got dashed in seconds as competitors unexpectedly splashed into the water while friends and family cheered them on. But here's the thing that's great for kids to see: Every single person who was eliminated got out of the water and said, "I'll be back next year." They were going to continue to work hard toward their personal goal, and not let "failure" make them quit their battle to be even stronger. That's true grit.