Once again we're taking time to celebrate the one tradition common to all cultures: gathering in large groups to participate in utterly pointless and often mind-bogglingly dangerous sports.
All it takes is a lot of bored males and, more often than not, alcohol.
#8. Shin Kicking
What is it?
Shin Kicking is part of the Cotswold Games, a four hundred year-old tournament that claims to be the oldest Olympiad in the world, and, because of the absence of synchronised swimming, it may also have a valid claim to be the best.
There's rarely a sport more perfectly summed up by its name. Shin Kicking is a contest between two fighters as to who can knock the other down by the simple, honest method of kicking the shit out of one another's shins.
If you cause your opponent to fall, you earn a point. Bouts are won on a best-of-three basis, the winner going through to the next round. Call us unadventurous, but we think we'd probably throw the fight immediately after some hairy, beefy, rosy cheeked English farmer demolished our wizened, malnourished shins with one swing of a sheep-shit covered boot.
Competitors are allowed to cram hay down their pants to try and protect their shins, but what with hay having the protective qualities of a soggy tissue, we can't picture it doing much good.
The Cotswold Games began in the early 1600s when a local attorney called Robert Dover organised the games a protest against the rampant growth of Puritanism. Because if anything is going to make those prudes lighten up it's the horrific breaking of another man's shins.
In the games early days, duelling was an event. In one fight between Sir German Poole and a Mr. Hutchinson, Poole sliced off three of Hutchinson's fingers before Hutchinson even drew his sword. Hutchinson responded by slicing off Poole's nose, and the gruesome turn of events probably short-circuited plans to combine the events by strapping knives to contestant's shoes during the shin-kicking event.
#7. Bossaball (AKA Trampoline Volleyball
Belgium, though there are clubs in Brazil, Germany, Spain and Kuwait, among other places.
What is it?
Bossaball is a variant of volleyball, but with elements of soccer, gymnastics and capoeira (a Brazilian martial art) thrown in. All of it is played on a souped-up bouncy castle, producing something which is mind-blowingly awesome. Seriously, why isn't this shit in the Olympics?
The game is played on an inflatable volleyball court, and in front of the net on each side is a round trampoline so players can get some serious height when spiking. Teams are comprised of three, four or five players, one of which must be on the trampoline (the attacker), whilst the other four must set the ball up for the attacker to spike. And of course everyone is bouncing around and giggling the whole time.
The game is over when a team reaches twenty five points, or when the bigger boys come along and throw everyone off so they can play.
The game was invented a few years ago in Belgium, making it the first good idea to come out of the country since the Trappist Monks realized worshiping God was much more fun when you're drunk off your ass.
The name comes from Bossa nova, which is a style of Brazilian Music, and Bossaball officials are known as samba referees. They officiate the game, but also provide the soundtrack with drums, turntables and microphones, an innovation we think would improve many sports (golf most of all).
#6. Free Style Walking (aka Skateboarding Without a Skateboard
Anywhere jaw-dropping stupidity can be found.
What is it?
Freestyle Walking and "Free Running" seem to be sports for people who bought the clothes to dress like Bam Margera, but didn't have any money left to buy a skateboard. So they go jumping off rails and fences using only their feet.
You can buy special shoes called Soap Shoes with hard soles meant to make it easier to slide along a rail before slipping off and destroying your nuts.
There are other offshoots like FMX or Foot Motocross, which is an extreme sport where people do BMX bicycle stunts the, er, bike. So, again, FMX is just running around and jumping.
Freestyle Walking was developed by Illinois residents Brian White, Brandon Kennedy, Tom Mottier and Mike Rempert in 1995 as a means of self-expression and creative interaction with one's environment. Everyone else just called it walking stupidly.
Experts expect the sport to die out in just one generation, as repeated rail nut-crushings have rendered virtually all participants sterile.
#5. Ferret Legging (aka Stuffing a Ferret Down Your Pants
What is it?
Imagine, if you can, standing in a barn in a small village on the moors of North Yorkshire, in England. In the barn, there are a lot of dour looking Gentlemen standing around you, glowering, drinking ale and smoking pipes. Oh yeah, you're shirtless, and your trousers are securely tied around your ankles. There's a fellow in front of you holding two ferrets. These two small, carnivorous, weasel-like beasts with sharp claws and teeth are squirming, and they look both pissed off and really, really hungry.
Then, the fellow with the ferrets gives you the nod. You pull your trousers out, and he throws the ferrets in, pulling your belt tight afterwards.
That's basically the idea of this. It's referred to as "keepin' 'em down" and Ferret Leggers have to keep the two thrashing, angry ferrets down their trousers for as long as possible. When the Ferret Legger can't take any more, they whip their trousers down, freeing the Ferrets, and spend the next few weeks trying to piece together their shredded pride. And genitals.
Organized events seem to have petered out before the era of YouTube videos, but fortunately you can still find some enthusiasts participating in the privacy of their own homes.
The current world record is held by a Yorkshireman called Reg Mellor, who kept two ferrets down his trousers for five hours and twenty six minutes back in 1981. No one dared ask him why.
We have no idea, nor do we really want to find out. All we know is that it was popular in the early 1900s, and rallied again in the 1970s. Currently Yorkshire and Scotland are both arguing as to who invented the sport first, hopefully each accusing the other.
The sport appears to be illegal in Great Britain, which is the only place where it is played. We suppose the authorities must turn a blind eye because, really, what can they do to punish a guy who's already had a ferret attack his testicles?