While most of us keep to a strict diet of NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and perhaps some PGA or NASCAR, an eclectic menu of more exotic sports awaits sampling.
So set your DVR to record and forgo an inning of that Yankees/Red Sox game. Instead, take a tour around the world to see the craziest, goriest, sexiest and downright weirdest athletic competitions mankind has come up with.
Free your mind, Neo.
Location: Southeast Asia.
Watch a game of sepak takraw and you might just think you’ve entered The Matrix. Because there ain’t no way a player in the real world could soar up into the air and spike a ball over his opposite shoulder WITH HIS FOOT.
Or rocket a serve over the net using the flat of his foot much in the same way as a mule kicks. The acrobatics in this centuries-old game are simply unreal. Screw $60 seats for Cirque du Soleil.
Just look up a local sepak league (yeah, it’s played in the USA, too) and head for the bleachers for a much better show. And it won’t take you long to catch on to the rules. I can sum it up in four words: volleyball but no hands.
This pint-sized Dutch-speaking South American country is not what you’d call a sports and entertainment mecca. There is just one golf course, one sports arena, and one movie theater. In the entire country.
But show up at a park at 5am Sunday morning in the capital city of Paramaribo, and you just might see one of the world’s most intense pissing contests. Men swagger across the lawn proudly showing off their twa-twas. Get your mind out of the gutter. A twa-twa is a prized song bird.
The sport of bird song goes like this: Two tall posts are driven into the ground side by side; a caged bird is hung from each post; a scorekeeper with a portable chalkboard stands at the ready by each cage; a crowd gathers around; a timer starts the clock; everyone—except the birds—falls silent and watches with intense passion; the score keepers marks a point for each time a bird chirps. The winner is the bird which gets the most chirps in five minutes. Verbose twa-twas can cost tens of thousands of Euros.
Think Tyra Banks, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Anna Nicole Smith—nothing wrong with a woman having a bit of meat on her bones. Unless you’re a male Finnish athlete.
See, the ultra un-p.c. sport of wife carrying involves hoisting up your little miss and, well, running. Through forest. Through sand. Through water. Over log hurdles.
Three postures for toting your lady exist: piggybacking, dangling upside down over the shoulder, or resting crosswise on the shoulders. The sport has its origins back in the days when to get a girlfriend, you just up and stole her from a neighboring village. The Wife Carrying World Championships have taken place in the city of Sonkajarvi every year since 1992.
Location: Willaston, England.
Competitors get a three-by-three meter plot of land, a garden fork, a piece of wood and a boom box, if they desire.
Once the timer starts, these worm charming competitors have 30 minutes to get as many worms out of the ground as they can without digging.
The fork, the wood, the music cause vibrations, which charm (read: annoy the piss out of) the worms and get them to surface. The official record was set in 1980—511 worms.
Location: Wales, UK.
It’s cheap. It’s fast. It’s easy to learn. It’s the barbaric sport of shin kicking. Also known as “purring,” “hacking” or idiocy.
Not much to explain here. Booted contestants face off, put their hands on one another’s shoulders, and kick each other’s legs into raw meat.
A point is awarded each time a soon-to-be-crippled competitor falls to the ground howling in pain. A stickler (ref) is on hand to make sure competitors actually fell from a shin kick and not, say, from profuse loss of blood.
Sure, sumo wrestling may be a little more on the map than the other sports on this list, but have you ever stopped and thought about just how odd this sport is?
Titanically obese men wear diapers, grunt, slap each other in the face and squash their roles of fat into each other. Can you believe these guys are rock stars in Japan?
Check out this picture of smoking Japanese model Hikaru Kawamura—ex girlfriend of Sumo champ Chiyotaikai Ryūji.
Sumo lessons? Sign me up!
Location: the Muggle world.
Yeah, you read that right.
Quidditch is now a real (ahem!) sport. Started at Middlebury College in Vermont (OK, first at Hogwarts) in 1997, Quidditch now has a professional league, even a world cup.
Players prance around a field with a broomstick between their legs racing to catch the golden snitch. Since winged, sentient golden balls are hard to come by in the real world, a squealing dude dressed in all yellow with a ball in sock tied to him plays the part. Snigger at will.
Who hasn’t been to a drunken bash in which someone breaks out the old limbo stick? Not really a sport though, is it? But what if instead of a bamboo pole, you limbo-ed under somewhat more challenging obstacles like, say, parked cars?
And why not add a bit of speed to an otherwise sluggish-paced sport? How you ask? By throwing roller skates in the mix, and turning competitors into limbo missiles. Welcome to the thrilling sport of limbo skating.
Nine-year-old Aniket Chindak has been a record holder in the sport since he was just six years old. He still holds the world record for longest limbo skate; he skated under 82 parked cars in 53.02 seconds. Oh, and when he gets bored, he throws on a blindfold for kicks and giggles.
A passing fad? Heck, no. This sport has got legs.
Back in the day, some genius of alchemy had the idea of combining chocolate and peanut butter; bliss was born. And now it’s been done again.
Mix one part football with one part scantily clad women. Behold, lingerie football. With six teams in two conferences, major expansion plans in the works, and national television coverage on MTV2, the sport is here to stay.
Ultimate fighting not tough enough for you? Well, you’re out of luck because that’s as tough as it gets these days. But, way back when, Polynesians practiced mokomoko boxing. That’s bare-fisted boxing. And apparently the only acceptable way to block an incoming blow was with one's closed fist. Youch! Oh, and also, all blows were aimed at the face.
Yeah, competitors just stood there and exchanged blows until someone dropped. But here’s the best part—the victory cry, the one shouted at the fallen boxer translated to: “Go and eat chicken dung.” I think Hawaii should bring it back as a state motto.