You don't need to be a superstar athlete with a million-dollar contract and a billion-dollar ego to be a champion. Here in the good ol' U.S. of A., tournaments aren't just reserved for sports; we have competitions that can turn the most menial and everyday professions, tasks, and skills into nail-biting tournaments and gripping challenges.
1. Pizza making
Dominos Pizza used to pride itself on being able to make and deliver hot pizza pies as fast as humanly possible with their famous "30 minutes or less" guarantee. The company has since realized that a speedy delivery promise doesn't matter much if the pizza tastes like piping hot cardboard, but they haven't given up on trying to create a fleet of super fast pizza makers. Every year, they've held a World's Fastest Pizza Maker competition with competitors from their global franchises to see who can put together a pie the fastest. The title is currently held by Pali Grewal of Surrey, England, who put together three large pizzas in 39.1 seconds.
Putting your groceries in bags looks easy, but that's just because the best of the best can make it look easy. Every year, the best and brightest in bagging are tapped by the National Grocers' Association to compete in their annual Best Bagger Championship. The first competition was held in 1987 in Dallas, Texas, and had just two contestants from Texas and Oklahoma. These days, contestants from all 50 states converge in Las Vegas for the annual competition.
It takes a lot more than just a good time to win the big bagging trophy. According to the NGA's official coordinator manual, contestants are judged by speed, bag building technique, weight distribution, and "style, attitude and appearance." The bagger with the highest score gets $10,000, the "Grocery Bag" trophy, and "Best Bagger Golden Lane" to proudly display in their store. Admiral, Washington's Andrew Borracchini took home the latest grand prize earlier this year.
Being a firefighter requires countless hours of training and education and strict fitness discipline. Some firefighters dedicate additional time to compete in the Firefighter Combat Challenge, where the world's best and fastest firefighters compete in a grueling obstacle course that incorporates all of the skills and challenges of traditional firefighting. The course measures individual and team runs in events that include hauling and hoisting a firehose pack up a high-rise structure, victim rescues, and forcing entry into a simulated burning building.
Every morning when you shuffle into your neighborhood coffee shop, you're probably too tired to notice the amount of work it takes to brew your cup of wake-up juice. It's such a delicate and complicated process that every year, the United States Barista Championship holds a heated competition to find the best Barista in the country. The competition covers three rounds: preparation, competition, and clean-up—each in an elimination-style tournament with a certain number of the highest scores moving to the next round. The baristas must make a single cup of espresso, cappuccino, and signature drink coffees for a group of specialized judges who determine the coffees' "sensory" qualities and the Barista's "technical" skill and award each player points based on their judgments. Pete Licata from Parisi Coffee of Kansas City, Missouri, won the last Barista championship in Boston.
5. School bus driving
Very few automotive competitions involve skills like parallel parking, "diminishing clearance," and a knowledge test of driver safety. The National School Transportation Association makes up for these sorely needed competitions by holding an annual safety competition for school bus drivers. Some of the world's best and brightest bus drivers travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to show off their safe student transportation skills in a very thorough gauntlet of driving challenges that include "elementary student loading," curb lines and stop lines, right turn events, and "railroad crossing and clearance." They also take a general knowledge and vehicle inspection test as part of the overall competition. The top 2012 drivers included Mark Koelbl from Calgary, Alberta, Antonio Perez from Encinitas, California, and Russell Altizer from Christiansburg, Virginia.