The reality of getting a job

Every summer, teams in the National Football League (NFL) bring 80 players to training camp. For Training camp
about six weeks they compete for 53 spots on the final roster, as well as eight spots on the practice squad and three spots on the water boy crew.

That’s 64 coveted jobs up for grabs, so you can imagine how competitive it is. Receivers try to impress coaches by catching every ball that’s thrown to them, defensive backs try to disrupt passes and deliver big hits, and running backs try to dart through gaps between autograph-seeking fans.

This year the Dallas Cowboys are trying something different. They’re giving one of the training camp spots to someone from a reality show. No, not Simon Cowell, though “Cowell the Cowboy” has a nice ring to it and fans like me would pay big bucks to see if the American Idol judge can make it through training camp with any of his teeth left.

The training camp spot will go to the winner of a new reality show on Spike TV. The show will be hosted by former Cowboys player Michael Irvin, who’s one of the NFL’s greatest possession receivers — and I’m not just talking about drug possession.

Six receivers and six defensive backs will compete on the show, which does not have a name yet, though it’s fairly obvious what it should be called: “Who wants to be killed at training camp?”

The show will probably be quite entertaining, especially for football-crazy men like me, and it makes me wish more jobs were filled through reality shows. Remember the U.S. Senate seat that President Obama vacated? Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich tried to sell it to the highest bidder, then wrapped it up and gave it to former state Attorney General Roland Burris with a card that said, “Merry Christmas, buddy!”

Well, wouldn’t it have made more sense to have a reality show called “Who wants to be the next U.S. Senator from Illinois?” Just imagine it, a show featuring a variety of contestants, such as Burris, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., State Senator Emil Jones, state Attorney General Lisa Madigan and, of course, Paris Hilton. Paris would be there to boost ratings and make sure no one else looks dumb.

It would be an exciting show, filled with interviews and debates and long-winded speeches. And at the end of it all, as the contestants wait in suspense, the host, Ryan Seacrest, would announce the results: “America has voted and you, Paris Hilton, will not be the next U.S. Senator from Illinois.”

As Paris steps aside, the entire nation would breathe a sigh of relief. Then several other contestants would be eliminated, until only one remains. The new U.S. Senator from Illinois, having been selected by viewers, would be smart and articulate, as well as cool and good-looking. (Not at all like the winner of a regular election.)

Reality shows can be used to fill many other jobs. Here are just a few examples of potential reality shows:

Who wants to be King of England? The British crown shouldn’t be inherited — it should be won. Prince Charles and Prince William would be welcome to compete, but so would Daniel Craig, Hugh Grant and David Beckham. Given those choices, you can bet your last penny that the British public would soon be saying “Nice knowing you, Charles” and “Nice coronation tattoo, King David!”

Last Plumber Standing. Based on the show Last Comic Standing, this contest would feature top plumbers from around the country, showing off their skills with pipe wrenches and plungers. The winner would be given the title of First Plumber, earning the privilege of unclogging Barack Obama’s drains.

Top Janitor. Based on the show Top Chef, this contest would bring together the nation’s most talented janitors, those who can make any floor shine and any sink gleam. The contestants would smile as they face the judges and hear positive comments such as “You definitely mopped up the competition” and “Your vacuuming really sucked!” The winner would be sent to Illinois, of course — to clean up Blagojevich’s mess.

Photo by esthereggy

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. Is the waterboy position thing a joke? Why would any athlete settle for that?
    Also, I love your blog! Keep it up Sir!

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