10 Most Bizarre Sports You've Likely NEVER Heard Of (with Amazing Bizarre Sports Pictures)by Brian Vaszily, founder of IntenseExperiences.com
Sports are microcosms of human living. I watch my son wrestle in high school and see the beautiful sense of purpose it gives him, and the great lessons of hard work, team work, delayed gratification, winning and especially coping with loss. But I watch him wrestle and sometimes find myself cursing the referee and his entire family or wishing that my son not only wins, but beats his teen opponent into bruised and bloodied total submission.
Sports bring out the best, the worst and everything in between in people.
It is of course the best, worst and everything on a lesser scale than “real life” – competition and loss on the battlefields of Iraq, for example, do hold far greater implications for the participants than competition and loss on a wrestling mat. But it is usually only in retrospect, if at all, that the sports’ participants and the fans experiencing the best, worst and everything in between realize “it’s just a game.”
While they’re in it, the game is the thing. The game resembles all the aspects of real life in concentrated form. The game is life.
So it is with the sports that seem “normal” (meaning normal to me and probably you) like baseball and basketball and hockey. And so it is, from what I’ve seen and been told, with bizarre sports… which is to say sports such as those below that I and probably you have never played and perhaps never even heard of previously.
Somewhere in Afghanistan or Kazakhstan, somebody is lurching for a headless goat carcass from the back of their horse with the same drive and intensity as Julian Wright of Kansas University slamming a basketball.
In Denver, Colorado on April 15, 2007, somebody who poured countless hours of practice and their very soul into becoming the Individual 3-6-3 Cup Stacking Champion of the World is going to experience the agony of defeat to someone else who poured it on as well, the same way Kansas is going to experience the agony of defeat when they’re beat in the U.S. college basketball championships on April 2.
For many somebodies somewhere, the following bizarre sports matter like nothing else in the world. They are their life, at least while they’re playing them. And somehow that only makes these weird sports, like all sports, both more bizarre and more fascinating …
Competitors must snorkel through dirty, smelly mud water for two lengths of a 60 yard trench that has been cut through a peat bog. The snorkeler with the lowest completion time wins. Competitors wear snorkels and flippers (wet suits are optional) and cannot use conventional swimming strokes. The world record time of 1min 35sec is held by Phillip John. The 2007 Bog Snorkeling championships will take place on August 27 in the small town of Llanwrtyd Wells in Wales.
The national sport of Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan, buzkashi might take the goat for most bizarre sport of all. It is similar to polo in that players on two teams sit atop horses, they are trying to move an object toward and into their goal, and the game can get pretty rough.
However, those who play buzkashi do not use mallets, nor do they use a ball; instead, they use a dead calf or goat whose head has been cut off. The players grab the dead headless calf or goat, pass it off to other players, and try to score by getting it in their goal. Serious buzkashi players train intensively for years, and many of the masters over forty years old.
Also known as Cheese Rolling, this dangerous sporting event that takes place every May 22 in Gloucester, England on Cooper’s Hill. The event is said to be at least hundreds of years old.
A wheel of cheese weighing about eight pounds is rolled down a very steep hill, and dozens of contestants go scrambling after it so hard and fast that broken limbs and other injuries are common. Whoever nabs the cheese is the champion and they win 15 or so minutes of fame (and the cheese.)
Okay, so by now you’ve probably heard of this one, and perhaps you’ve even seen it on ESPN2 or the like. But it still and always will deserve to get listed amongst the most bizarre sports. It goes against everything eating is supposed to be. Everything your mother ever taught you about taking little bites, chewing slowly and swallowing carefully. And it’s a kick to watch.
Actually, I was a champion competitive eater once. Way back when I was maybe seven or eight years old I won the pie eating contest at Blackhawk Park in Chicago, beating out some significantly wider competition. Thank you very much if you applauded. But the point is, even as an amateur I know personally including from the after-effects that it’s a tough and demanding sport.
There are many different competitions centered on different particular foods to entire buffets in the world of competitive eating. There are contests for eating hot dogs, French fries, grilled cheese, jalapenos (OUCH), and much more. Check out some of the different eating contests here at the International Federation of Competitive Eating’s website.
While competitive eating is booming in popularity in the U.S., it has long been very popular – and taken very seriously -- in Japan. Competitive eaters there can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars. Japan is, of course, home to THE legend of competitive eating, Takeru Kobayashi, who has won many of competitive eating’s top competitions. In 2006, weighing in at only 131weighed in at only 131 pounds, when he shattered the Nathan's hot dog eating contest, devouring 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes. Now that’s incredible … and bizarre.
Lawnmower racing originated in Britain, where according to the British Lawn Mower Racing Association, villagers at the Criketers Arms Pub in Wisborough Green, West Sussex, “Whilst downing their pints … looked across the village green to see the green keeper mowing the cricket pitch. They realised that everyone had a lawn mower in their garden shed and it was then that Lawn Mower racing was born. A Championship was held in a local farmers field and up to 80 competitors turned up for what turned out to be a very successful event.”
The sport has grown to 250 members to date, and has several championships including the most famous of all, The 12 Hour Endurance Race.
The sport has also spread like a weed across the big pond, and today there is a U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association whose motto is, “We turn a weekend chore into a competitive sport!” And like their British counterparts, they take it as seriously as … keeping their lawns mowed. They have their own schedule of competitions and champions, and included in the rules are that:
- Events are open to all self-propelled rotary or reel style riding lawn mowers.
- The mower must originally have been designed and sold commercially to mow lawns.
- The mower must remain suitable for lawn cutting, apart from the modifications permitted in the Handbook.
A popular sport in Malaysia and elsewhere in Asia, this one is not bizarre for weirdness as much as for the sheer athleticism involved – the athletic skills required might put even Michael Jordan to shame.
Sepak Takraw resembles soccer, volleyball and gymnastics all in one game. The Takraw ball is about the size of a 16” softball and usually made of rattan or hard plastic stems. There are three players per team, and players stand on opposing sides of a net and use their feet, knees, shoulders or head to hit – actually smash is a more appropriate term – to the opposite side. No hands or arms are allowed. It is common to see players front-flipping, back-flipping and moving their bodies in other impossible ways to hit the ball and score points.
Not recommended for those conditioned more for bocce ball.
Sport Stacking (also known as Cup Stacking)
In Cup or Sport Stacking, participants stack and unstuck cups in pre-determined sequences such as pyramids of three, six or ten cups, competing against other players or the clock. The sport began in Southern California in the 1960s and the rules and official events are now governed by the World Sport Stacking Association. The Championships are coming on April 14-15 at the Denver Coliseum in Denver, Colorado.
Sport Stacking is actually quite an intense sport involving great bursts of energy and hand-eye coordination; be sure to see the cup stacking world record video below.
The annual Wife-Carrying Championship, whose roots go back to the early 19th century and which has been run as an official sporting event since 1992, takes place in Sonkajärvi, Finland on July 6-8, 2007. It is actually a grueling race over 250 meters of obstacles that includes a water jump.
As the name implies, the men must run the race with their wives on their back. The prize? Her weight in beer. It should be noted that a 15-second penalty is incurred should a man drop his wife during the course of the race. The penalty is probably far worse when he gets home.
Should you and yours wish to enter, you can find a Wife-Carrying Championships Participation Form here.
The national sport of Turkey, Yagli gures translates to “oiled wrestling” and that’s exactly what it is. The wrestlers wear tight shorts called “Kispet” made of water buffalo leather, they cover themselves with olive oil (not sure if its extra virgin), and they wrestle.
The most famous and important tournament takes place in Edirne at the end of June/early July, and because the sport is so popular in Turkey, the champions are national heroes. The sport of oil wrestling actually dates all the way back to 2650 B.C. in Egypt and Assyria.
Zorbing is a relatively new sport that does not yet have any official competitions or a championship – though it has been featured as a competition on the popular TV show Amazing Race. It does require skill and athleticism to master, though, especially when done in its most popular form: downhill.
Zorbing was invented in the early 1990s by a pair of New Zealander friends who wanted to walk on water. After several different prototypes, they came up with the zorb, an inflatable ball made of clear plastic with a space inside that a person is strapped into. As the ball moves along over surfaces, the person rolls along inside it. In essence, it is a transparent hamster ball for humans … and it is supposed to be a ton of fun.
Zorbing works on water – you apparently do kind of feel like you’re walking on it – but practitioners found it was even more enjoyable on land, particularly down hillsides. The sport has moved well beyond New Zealand to Australia, Europe and North America.
I was going to add the sport of Cut-Up to the list and make it 11 Most Bizarre Sports, but then I recalled that my childhood friend James Smith and I invented it and are (likely) the only ones in the world who have ever played it. Still, I think an official league should be developed around it and it should have a World Championship.
Here’s how the sport of Cut-Up, straight from the minds of two 10-year-old boys, is played: you throw a disk resembling a Frisbee very hard at your opponent. If they don’t catch it and it instead hits part of their body, that part of their body is immobilized (or “cut up”). Whoever the first one is to completely immobilize their opponent – by cutting up both their arms, both their legs and their head – is the winner.
Add a comment below and tell me if you’d like to form a Cut-Up League! Or on second thought, perhaps you’re better off posting a comment on other bizarre sports you’ve heard of or played, since Cut-Up would probably catch on like wildfire (with its violent angle and all) and then everyone would blame James and me.