3Basketball: Rocks and Human Sacrifice
You probably already have heard the part about the guy who invented basketball with a peach basket, but the story is much older and weirder than that.
That guy was James Naismith, a coach from Canada that came to teach at a YMCA in the States, where he invented the sport as a way to keep people active during the winter months. But few people know Naismith's terrible secret: His new activity was inspired by a combination of a children's game and ancient Mesoamerican rituals. Sort of like Candy Land mixed with blood sacrifice, only more geared towards the sale of sports drinks.
The children's game was called Duck on a Rock, which involved one child placing a small rock on top of a larger one, and then protecting it from other children who threw rocks in an effort to knock it down. Yeah, they didn't have video games back then.
We realize this sounds nothing like basketball but the most effective way to get past the guard was to softly lob one's rock over their head towards the target rock. Naismith, having played the game as a child, thought this was a good way to provide players of his sport with a challenge, likely because he was struck in the face by one of the aforementioned rocks.
The other inspiration came from Mayan and Aztec ball games, which were decidedly more brutal and/or awesome. The goal of these contests was to get the ball through stone rings located on either end of a large court. The ball itself was heavy enough to cause injuries, and players were even known to have been killed by head trauma, further demonstrating Naismith's love of games that injure people.
Hurry up and take the picture, I need to break someone's nose with this.
The sport was used as a proxy for war, with an additional element of human sacrifice, as either the losing captain or entire teams would be killed after ritual games. That must have made for some tense fucking free throws in the fourth quarter.
2Bobsledding: Theft and a Gross Disregard for Bystander Safety
Contrary to its charming representation in Cool Runnings, bobsledding was born from an amalgamation of drunken, over-privileged negligence.
In the late 19th century, a brand new winter resort was opened in Switzerland to the delight of young, wealthy Europeans. Winter resorts were pretty new at the time, and as such there wasn't a great deal offered in the way of entertainment other than drinking, looking at mountains and throwing coins at poor people. So travelers decided to amuse themselves by stealing the sleds the resort delivery staff used to carry supplies, fuse a couple of them together and go sledding through the streets of St. Moritz, presumably with delivery food flying out along the way.
"Hey poor people: Look at how much fun money is!"
The innovation pretty much stops there, as the inventors didn't bother to devise a way to steer their contraptions or to think of going sledding in an unpopulated area. Actually, they didn't bother with anything that would help them avoid mowing down the Swiss working class in their merriment.
Still, bobsledding's popularity as a recreational activity for the rich and asinine grew steadily over the next several years. Eventually more runners were added to the bottom of the sled to make it easier to turn, organized races were introduced and women were made a necessary component of each team presumably to make the sport appear less gay.
However, actual runs for the sleds to race along had yet to be invented, so elite Alpine vacationers were still barreling down snow covered streets, smashing into trees and mailboxes. Finally succumbing to reason, the resort built the world's first naturally refrigerating bobsled run in 1902, and two decades later a committee was formed to standardize the rules which allowed the sport to appear in the first Winter Olympics in 1924. It isn't clear which rule--"go," "that way" or "fast"--needed clarification, but the world is unquestionably better for it.
Ah, fuck, I forgot the rules. Just keep going, it's probably fine.