by Casey Douglas
Photo Courtesy of Pexels
Baseball is America’s favorite pastime. Sunday’s are for football rivalries, wings and touchdowns. In the winter, fans get loud at the ice rink or blaze icy trails down a mountainside; and in the summer, beachgoers try to hold their own in volleyball.
Americans know and love these sports. However, there’s far more to the world of athletic competition than just grassy fields, pigskins and point scoring. Out there is a whole new world of international, weird, crazily eccentric events where rules don’t dare venture and conventional equipment is thrown to the wind. Also, a special thank you to England, for you have brought the world by far the oddest assortment of activities.
1. Uppies and Downies
Origin: Workington, Cumbria, United Kingdom in medieval times. It is now played in springtime, around Catholic Easter.
What: This event is considered to be a type of “medieval football.” It involves two teams, those born above the Clofflocks and those born below which sometimes numbers up to 1000 members per side. The object of the game is to score on your opponent three times. However, the goal of each team is located on the opposite side of Workington—therefore adding an extra challenge to the match.
The Draw: It's like long distance, intense, limitless football/rugby (there are no rules for conduct). The best part is that the money that is raised by playing in the event goes to local charities.
2. Wife-Carry Racing
Origin: Sonkajärvi, Finland in 1992.
What: It’s exactly what you think it is: men race through an obstacle course with their wife over their shoulder.
The Draw: The winner is awarded their wife’s weight in beer. Enough said.
3. Extreme Ironing
Origin: Leicester, England in the 1990s.
What: This sport is for those individuals who want to spice up their household work with a fun twist. There is no singular, true winner of Extreme Ironing, but the wackier your ironing location, the more respect you’ll garner from the community.
Why: Chores are mundane and this isn’t just a phase, Mom.
4. Sepak Tekraw
Origin: Malaysia, over 500 years ago.
What: Volleyball, but minus the upper body, plus the lower body.
Why: It has deep historical contexts, as the royal Malaysian court was the first to play it. Additionally, the wild nature of the sport and limited mobility gives the players an extra challenge, resulting in some high-intensity, exciting games.
Origin: Gloucester, England in the early 1800s. It is now “played” on England’s Spring Bank Holiday.
What: People chase an 8-pound wheel of Double Gloucester cheese down a grassy hill. Whoever grabs the cheese, wins. The specific cause or reason for this event remains disputed, but its incontestable that people from around the globe travel to England and potentially seriously injure themselves, all for a wheel of cheese.
Why: Cheese. Pizza. Nachos.
6. Volcano Surfing
Origin: Vanuatu Islands in 2002
What: So, there’s boarding on snow, waves, sand and even air. This sport takes surfing to a whole new level as athletes plunge down the ash-coated side of a volcano. The surfing can be done on both active and inactive volcanoes, though active volcanos certainly up the risk/challenge factor.
Why: Volcanoes are by far one of nature’s most intriguing creations, so it's understandable that people desire to spend more time in their wake—what better way to appreciate such a powerful and beautiful formation than to actively participate in its existence? Also, it’s a fun new way to push the limits of modern boarding, and gives boarding athletes a chance to push their skills to new heights.
Origin: Germany in 2007
What: Two German brothers who hoped to give the street sport-loving community of Germany something to be excited about created sporthocking. Participants perch on a colorful and intricate stool and complete a variety of entertaining movements: they can spin, hold themselves up and even juggle. The goal is to string as many challenging tricks as possible together without making an error.
Appeal: The sport is flashy and whimsical and requires impeccable balance, core strength and personality. It’s a fun challenge to participate in and incredibly entertaining to simply observe.
8. Dunny Derby
Origin: Winton, Queensland
What: To understand this sport is to decode its name. “Dunny” is an Australian outback term for a toilet and “derby” is a race. So, it’s a team, wheel-bearing toilet race that require teams of five to push, pull and maneuver the toilet 200 meters (with some added obstacles).
Appeal: The event only comes around every second year in September, so it’s an exciting way to end the Australian winter and have a bit of competitive, childish fun. Additionally, one person gets to just sit on the toilet, which seems pretty luxurious and an easy way to win some money.
In short, this only scratches the surface of what opportunities for sport lie ahead of us. Whether you’d like to chase some cheese or literally run with your wife, the possibilities are endless. But, if none of these tickle your fancy, don’t hesitate to try a new “normal” sport (like baseball or football). Sports are one of the best ways to meet great people, get active and have a ton of fun; if you’re lucky, you might just find your newest stress-relieving hobby in the process.