When people get bored of a regular sport, they invent a crazier version -- that's why, as we've previously told you about, there are now versions of volleyball that are played by jumping on trampolines or through flying spin kicks. But what happens when we get bored of sports that are already crazy to begin with? To what deranged depths will man sink due to his need to be the best at something, even if it's completely pointless and insane, before he says, "OK, that's enough"?
All we know is that we haven't found that line yet, judging by the existence of ...
6 Underwater Upside-Down Hockey
Nope, that's not a picture of two scuba divers playing normal hockey that we turned upside-down -- it's from a real sport called underwater ice hockey. The players are each trying to swat that floating puck into the other's goal under a frozen sheet of ice, and if you're wondering why you can't see their oxygen tanks, don't worry: That's simply because they don't have any. Seriously, here's a video of it:
The game is played one-on-one in 10-minute intervals, with breaks every 30 seconds allowing the players to swim up to the tiny hole cut into the ice through which they breathe. That's provided they can get there -- it turns out that holding their breath and trying to play hockey upside-down has a tendency to disorient the players, who can lose track of where the air hole is and sometimes pass out.
Still slightly safer than normal hockey.
Even if they know where the hole is, sometimes the players build up so much CO2 in their bodies from just moving around that they pass out anyway, and then it's up to the underwater referees (who do carry oxygen tanks) to save them. The sport isn't so thrilling for the spectators, though, who sit on the surface watching the action via a regular-sized TV monitor and occasionally seeing the players come up for air.
They go anyway because it's the only TV in town.
Despite its unusual combination of balletic and potentially deadly action, eight countries currently compete in this sport annually -- pretty much all of the frozen ones. Because cold weather does weird things to your brain.
5 Robot Camel Racing
Yes, the riders are robots, not the camels. Sorry if you got your hopes up.
Regular camel racing is a thousand-year-old tradition that combines the high-stakes betting, excitement and potential danger of horse racing with the gleeful silliness of watching a camel do anything. The only problem was that, traditionally, the jockeys riding those camels had been child slaves, as young as 4 years old, trafficked from places like Bangladesh and Sudan exclusively to take part in the sport. So there's that.
For thriving Arab nations like Qatar, this was becoming a PR nightmare when dealing with Western countries where strapping a baby to a large humped animal for your amusement is frowned upon. On the other hand, they couldn't just stop racing camels, because it's way too much fun. The solution? Robots.
For authenticity's sake, the robots are programmed with the memories of an enslaved child.
Qatar hired a Swiss robotics company to build them their robot camel jockeys. These chubby, adorable little guys are operated by joystick, using the right hand to crack their tiny whips and the left to pull on the reins; they also monitor the camel's heart rate and have a built-in GPS. In case you've never met a 4-year-old, they can only do like half of those things.
These guys are being introduced in the United Arab Emirates as well, and are now by law the only jockeys allowed in Qatar -- yes, that means they've passed legislation involving the words "robot camel jockey."
We prefer the phrase "semi-autonomous ungulate pilot."
However, the introduction of the robot jockeys presented a whole new series of problems: The camels would not accept their android masters unless they had some semblance of skin and facial features (which is presumably why those aren't all tiny R2-D2s), and Islam regards images of humans to be idolatry, so they had to try to hit the sweet spot between faceless, camel-scaring androids and taboo graven images.
"Onward! To the Uncanny Valley!"
Of course, we get the feeling that the sport won't really catch on worldwide until some animal rights organization gets them to start using the aforementioned robot camels as well. Until then, we'll be here, waiting.