American Ninja Warrior, Vegas Stage 1

Failure is everything.  There's the obstacle course engineered to punish anything other than excellence.  There's the countdown starting at 2 minutes 25 seconds, positively anemic.  There's an aristocratic sum of cash dangling in the far distance.  And God, if this isn't an analog for the struggle of life in a cruel universe, there's one soul after another making a run for the money.  They're every type of fit you can imagine--bulky and lithe, fast and quick, explosive and enduring--and they just . . . fail.  It breaks your heart a different way every time.  They splash out right at the start.  Or they get within inches and lose to the clock.  Sometimes it's the money, and knowing what it would mean to them.  Sometimes it's just pride, purely, that takes a horrible gash.  One slip and it's over.  For anyone.  At any time.  Like with all of us.  And so when that rare one hits the buzzer, Sweet Jesus, you cheer like they're kin, because they are.