The Apache Relays: The Greatest Upset In Camp History [Heavyweights]

The 90s movie classic Heavyweights is a feel-good comedy that discus-tosses body shaming into the lake like an Apache Relay trophy and then asks viewers all across the world to judge people by their character in order to make them feel good about who they are, which will lead to better decisions and a healthier life.

But I got a real problem with this movie…

The whole film builds to a climax at the Apache Relays, where Camp Hope- the overweight reject underdogs- take on Camp MVP- the athletic reigning champs- in a relay race that presumably favors Camp MVP because Camp Hope has never ever won the Apache Relays before.

The logical assumption, then, is that the Relay relies on some sort of athleticism, endurance, or physical prowess that would benefit the athletes of MVP over the fat kids of Camp Hope.

Thus, when Camp Hope wins in a fat camp “do you believe in miracles?” moment, the audience feels good, the fat kids feel good, MVP, the arrogant bullies, receive their come-uppance, and Tony Perkis Jr’s Perkis System is replaced with kindness and self-esteem.

But let’s look a little closer at the components of the Apache Relay that Camp MVP has so long dominated…

The announcer informs us that the Relay will take place in three parts.

  1. The Obstacle Course
  2. The Hall of Intelligence
  3. The Grand Prix


These three parts are separated into smaller components as well, some of which we get to glimpse in the movie. We witness parts of the following…

  • A sack race
  • Making a goal on a soccer goalie from the opposing team
  • A structure course including a balance beam, monkey bars, climbing wall, and…a zip line? Okay. I guess.
  • Throwing a football through a tire
  • And shaving a balloon… wait a second

After the Obstacle Course, the competitors move on to the Hall of Intelligence, where they are required to name five American vice presidents, and presumably, answer other similar questions. Then the competitors go skipping out of the Hall, side by side, to drive a go kart to the ultimate finish.

My issue is not that they leave the Hall of Intelligence side by side after clearly seeing Camp Hope take a major lead after the Vice Presidents question- I’ll allow it. 

But I am wondering how in the hell Camp Hope ever lost the Apache Relay.

Just look at the three main parts of the Apache Relay- The Obstacle Course, The Hall of Intelligence, and The Grand Prix. Two of these components have absolutely nothing to do with athleticism. And in fact, one of them actually benefits the sedentary lifestyle of the overweight, who are more likely to read books while at home and therefore be smarter than jocks who are constantly outside playing organized sports rather than learning.

The only way Camp Hope could lose, would be if Camp MVP were able to get so far ahead in the Obstacle Course that Camp Hope would never be able to make up the deficit. But even two of the obstacles had nothing to do with athletic prowess (zip line and balloon shaving) making it infinitely harder for Camp MVP to create a lead large enough to carry them through the other two parts of the Apache Relay.

On top of that, we have to assume, based on the development of the race, that there is some sort of fail safe for any individual obstacle that a team cannot pass. For example, that Camp MVP kid was never going to shave the balloon correctly, and that Camp Hope kid was never going to climb that wall, and that Camp MVP kid was never going to name 5 Vice Presidents, so therefore, they were probably allowed to bypass an obstacle after a certain amount of time elapsed or use some other such safety measure. A wise and fair addition to the Apache Relays. However, if this is the case, it would prevent Camp MVP from ever being able to gain a lead large enough to make up for the fact that two thirds of the race does not benefit them or is stacked against them.

I mean honestly, the Apache Relays is at best a wash for favorites. But I could easily argue that Camp Hope are the favorites. If Vegas had a line on this thing it would probably be Camp Hope -250. 

The only other way to explain a 33-year losing streak in a race where your camp is the clear favorite is if the relay changes every year (which would be a shit relay, the whole significance of the Apache Relays is that it is always done, and that Camp MVP has won it 33 years in a row, and that prestige and tradition go out the window if it is a different race every year). And if the relay is different every year then it would also seem safe to assume the host camp gets to choose the course. So in this year, Camp Hope hosted and created a new obstacle course on which they were able to break their 33 year drought. 

But now this is just cheating… That is not the lesson you want to teach these youth- when your out of shape and can’t do something, rig the damn system. That’s a whole different movie.

Much more likely, this course has those three main parts every year, and the components of those parts may change, but the overall relay is largely the same. In which case, every year for 33 years there was a Hall of Intelligence and a Grand Prix, and Camp Hope still managed to lose. This story was about a great upset, but it was the fact that for 33 years Camp MVP upset Camp Hope in the Apache Relays.

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