In all the years I've watched Big Brother I'd never considered the fairness of the competitions until last season. They had always seemed fair to me, within reason. Technically, anyone was capable of winning any competition, I thought. Sure, some people just aren't ever going to win some competitions.

A lack of athletic ability isn't too big an issue in the Big Brother House, but some competitions do require stamina or strength. We're never going to see Kathy win a competition where she has to crawl through sticky caramel. Or Jerry for that matter, considering his age! But most physical competitions require little more than a mastery of one's own body. Hanging onto a slippery vinyl banana or hot dog only requires holding up one's own weight. Crawling through thick, sticky marshmallow only requires a contestant to pull their own body weight through the course. It's your body, what you can do with it is up to you. There have never been any weight lifting competitions tailored to Jessie, for example. Most of the physical competitions require a mastery of one's own body, and they often require a lot of mind-over-matter.

Other competitions test intelligence, memory or intuition, and even luck. People have to work with what they've got, and be willing to do what they have to do. For example, we've seen some people going around the house counting everything. More and more people are starting to do that now. I think Adam has already counted everything in the house except the spokes on the bicycles. We've seen many people memorizing all the competitions and winners as they go through the game. And we've seen competitions where such knowledge was required. I don't have to think back far to remember Jordan's win over Gnatalie during Round 2 of the Final HoH competition during Season 11, listing the season's HoHs in order by rolling balls with the contestants' names on them into ordered holes.

Last season was the first time I'd been confronted with the idea that maybe, just maybe, the competitions could be rigged. Brendon whined about the Hang 10 competition, which was similar to the ski competition last week. He complained that Matt and Ragan had small feet, making the contest much easier for them. I wasn't rooting for Matt at the time, and it still seemed fair enough to me. A couple of weeks later, Brendon complained about the True Colors competition. That was the competition where the house guests had to stand on the narrow ledge of a spinning paint can while being plastered with paint by an oversized brush.

I wasn't pulling for Brendon during that competition, but he whined and cried enough that I had to take a second look. At a first glance, I kind of thought he had a point. The ledge was narrow, but Matt had enough room to move his feet back and forth a little to change his center of gravity. At times, Brendon seemed to be standing with only the heels of his feet hooking the edge, with the rest of his feet hanging off the narrow ledge. But I watched closer, and Brendon did have enough room to place both of his feet entirely on the ledge. Admittedly, he didn't have the space to work with that Matt did, based on the length of his genetically mutated ground-pounders. But Brendon's ledge was the same width as Matt's. If production had made the ledge any wider, Matt and Ragan would have been able to walk around up there on the paint can! So what was production supposed to do? Measure the ledges and cut them to the exact length of each contestant's feet? It seemed fair enough to me.

This season, once again, Brendon is complaining to anyone who will listen (and show him a little sympathy) about the unfairness of the ski competition. And I have to admit that once again, I am giving his complaint a little honest thought.

What made me stop and think was that I was watching the competition on the Live Feeds with my 16 year old niece. Even without hearing Brendon's complaints (he had already fallen off before my niece showed up after work), she noticed that the handles were just the right height for Dani and Kalia to lean with their sides on the handlebars. What my niece noticed was that Shelly was banging her hips into the handlebars with each swing, while Dani and Kalia were hanging most of their body weight from the handlebars and pretty much just letting their legs hang down and swing freely between the edges of the ski contraption.

So I thought about things. What was stopping any of the other house guests from bending their knees enough to hang their weight off of the handles like Dani and Kalia did? The only rule was to Not Fall Off! There were no other rules to the contest. It reminded me of the time that Russel tied the string of his shorts to the rope on the swing during the graduation endurance competition that he won. Was it Dani's fault that the handlebars were at a natural height for her to notice and use it to her advantage? Or was it an oversight of everyone else in the competition for not shifting around and bending their knees and finding a similarly comfortable position? As far as the pain factor, as Russel and Jeff once proved, that is always an issue of mind over matter and nothing more.

I did expect Shelly to hold out a little longer on the ski competition though. I knew she wasn't going to go for hours, but I did hear her discussing taking a couple of her prescription pain pills earlier that day if it was an endurance competition. (Hydrocodone - Vicoden, if I remember correctly, for some pins or a rod in her spine.) Looking at her face during the competition, I could tell by the glassy eyes, the huge grin on her face, and the change in her voice that she probably did take some for the competition. I lived in a ghetto long enough to recognize THOSE symptoms. Isn't 'doping' illegal in most forms of physical competitions? I'm not sure that it matters for Big Brother competitions, but it does matter for most professional sports. It didn't help Shelly in the long run anyway, because the effects wore off before the competition was over. I could see it in her face when the effects of the pills started to fade, and the big excited grin faded to a grimace. Not too long after that, she fell.

I have to say, I don't see any Conspiracy Theories going on in production when it comes to competitions. I will admit that some competitions are slightly easier for certain body types than others, but it is still an issue of people working with what they've brought to the game. In the worst case, it's an issue of mind over matter and dealing with a little pain. If production really wanted to rig the competitions, they could. I could. But it would require a lot more work and time (and money) in setting up each competition. Production doesn't have the extra set-up time, and they certainly don't want to spend the extra money to rig competitions. If they had the time and money to do anything, they would take the time to tailor fit each contestant to each contest. That would mean things like having different sized seats on swings for different sized asses, height-adjusting handlebars, and ledges measured to the exact length of people's feet. It seems to me that tailor-fitting competitions to the contestants would require less time than attempting to rig competitions for certain outcomes, in most cases.

What really happened: Brendon psyched himself out and set himself up to lose even before he even got on the skis, and the paint can, and even the surf board. This past HoH, I think maybe he even psyched out Jeff by his repeated claims that endurance competitions were rigged for someone small. For all Brendon's self-proclaimed intellect, he should be smarter than allowing himself to be psychologically beaten even before a competition begins! He should be smart enough to psych himself up for the win, and he should be smart enough to work around a contest's design. He complains about his injured knees from a competition that happened weeks ago. If he wouldn't have picked at the scabs, those major debilitating injuries on his knees would have been healed a week ago. (I had a lot of scraped knees and elbows when I was a kid.) Instead, it seems to me that he'd rather pick at the scabs and keep the injuries around a while to use as another possible excuse for failure.

I think the important thing to note, as far as Conspiracy Theories that run amok in the house, is that it just doesn't seem to make sense to blame production for everything that goes wrong during a competition. I know that some people will disagree, especially when their favorite does poorly during a specific competition. I have caught myself thinking that way from time to time too. But whenever I start thinking that way, I give the specific competition a little critical analysis. And I find that every competition other than strictly luck-based competitions is an issue of preparation, maintaining one's composure, intelligence or at least quick-thinking, and mind over matter. When two people match up in a competition who are equal in those abilities, the competitions are always the most interesting!

I didn't mean to turn this article into another Brendon-bashing session (but it's so EASY!), so let me end on a slightly different note. Did anyone notice Porsche's DR session on Sunday's show? She was telling the DR why she dropped out of the HoH competition. On the Live Feeds, when she fell off she blamed her big butt for pushing her off. In the DR, she said that her shoulder was starting to hurt really bad “right here”, as she pointed at her elbow! That was MY biggest laugh from Sunday night's show!