The 10 Most Insane "Sports" in the World

A good sport should be two things: inexcusably dangerous and, ultimately, completely pointless.

American sports feature way too many pads and helmets and, you know, rules, so we've scoured the globe for the most awesome-and often terrifying-alternatives.

#10. The Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake

Where: A small corner of the British Isles that time and genetics forgot.

What is it?
It involves up to 20 competitors chasing a block of cheese down a hill. No, really.

The competitors climb up to the top of the almost-impossibly steep Cooper's Hill and chase a large not-quite-round wheel of double Gloucester cheese down to the bottom. The winner is the first person over the line at the bottom of the slope, but theoretically, the winner is supposed to be the person who catches the cheese. The cheese, which is given a one-second head start, reaches speeds in excess of 70 miles an hour, so unless a competitor is the T-1000, or has managed to smuggle a motorcycle to the top of the hill, it's not gonna happen.

Terrible injuries, however, are common.

No one quite knows when the game started, but it is at least 200 years old, though some say it goes back further and was part of a pagan healing ritual. Apparently to pagans, healing rituals meant hurting yourself really badly.

Interesting fact:
After the final race, candy is thrown down the hill for a children' 'scramble.' This has been attacked by children' charities as being highly dangerous, but has been praised by almost everyone else as being very funny.

#9. Hurling

Where: Ireland.

What is it?
An Irish sport which appears to be a hybrid of field hockey, soccer, football and unremitting, pants-wetting terror.

The game is played with axe-like sticks called hurleys or "camáns" and a small, hard ball. Two teams, each with 15 Irishmen of questionable mental stability attempt to score goals by smacking the ball as hard as possible, at head height and at terrifying speeds.

Hurling' origins are based on some kind of energetic outdoor activity participated in by ancient Gaels that most people refer to as 'warfare.' When the Irish began to migrate overseas, they attempted to set up hurling leagues in their adopted countries, but everyone else was too frightened and/or mentally stable to play.

Interesting fact:
Although a well-hit ball can travel at speeds of almost 100 miles per hour, hurling players wear no protective gear. Players can choose to wear a helmet, but many choose not to, figuring if God had wanted men to wear helmets, he wouldn't have given them those ball-deflecting skulls.

#8. Eukonkanto (Wife Carrying)

Where: Finland.

What is it?
The "wife-carrying" thing isn't a metaphor. A gentleman heaves his wife onto his back and races through a special obstacle course, perhaps while she berates him the whole way about each little mistake.

The rules say the "wife" that gets carried can be your own, or a friend', or pretty much anyone'. The competitors dash down a 250-meter track, with two jumps and a water trap. A dropped wife incurs a 15-second penalty for the team and, presumably, dog-turd casserole for a week.

The sport originated years ago as a joke in Finland. We're not sure if this is a damning indictment of Finnish sexual equality or Finnish humor.

Interesting fact:
Cross-dressing NBA star Dennis Rodman competed in 2005, in an attempt to suck in the last escaping molecules of athletic fame available to him.

#7. Buzkashi

Where: Central Asia, principally Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan.

What is it?
The national sport of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and other unpronounceable Central Asian nations, it involves a large amount of ululating Arabs tearing around a large area on horseback, trying to wrestle the carcass of a goat from each other in an apparent effort to reaffirm every negative stereotype the world has about them.

The two mounted teams try to throw the dead goat over a goal line or into a tub. This elicits a great deal of enthusiasm, so we assume it constitutes scoring a point. Play is rough, and competitors often wear protective clothing to protect themselves from other riders' boots, whips and probably stray bullets.

We have no idea. Obviously when the good people of Central Asia started this game, they were having too much fun to write anything down for future posterity.

Interesting fact:
Buzkashi games can go on for several days, which says as much about the stamina of the players as it does about the total lack of any alternate form of entertainment in the regions the sport is played.

#6. The Eton Wall Game

Where: England, at Eton College.

What is it?
This mishmash of rugby and soccer has been played in one spot at an exclusive English private school ... for more than 300 years. It happens on the same strip of land with a long, slightly curved wall down one side and often devolves into a multi-limbed pile of shrieking schoolboys.

Two teams try to get the ball into a scoring zone, then kick it against a target (a garden door for one team and a tree for the other). Sounds simple, until you realize that the method of actually moving the ball into position involves all the players on both teams piling up along the wall and slowly inching the ball upfield, to the extreme discomfort of any players buried in the pile who'll spend 30 minutes having their faces slowly scraped along the mortar.

Every now and again, the ball pops free and someone boots it up field, which precipitates a crazed scramble to retrieve the ball, whereupon the whole process starts again.

The first recorded incidence of the game being played was in 1766, though the most important game of the year is the St. Andrews Day game, first played in 1844. We like to pretend that it began to give the English social elite something to do when they became bored of shooting the working class or going to war against a bunch of Pacific Islanders armed with sticks.

Interesting Fact:
If you like wild games with lots of scoring, well, too bad. The last goal was scored in 1909. No kidding.

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