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There aren't too many sports that can be played in the middle of a high-density metropolis, at least not by amateurs. There's basketball, the variant of stickball that old-timey kids are always playing in the middle of the street in gangster movies, and, uh ... competitive car dodging? If you want to have fun without hopping on a bus out of town, you'll have to find a way to pound the square peg of sports into the round hole of city living. (Does that analogy sound filthy to anyone else? Nah, we're probably reading too much into it.) Anyway, here are a few folks who saw the wrong hole and started pounding away.

6
Climbing Skyscrapers

Vitaliy Raskalov

"Buildering" isn't just how inbreds say "building" anymore! It's a new sport, adapted from mountaineering for an urban environment. The basic premise is that elevators are for chumps, and real adventurers get to that fancy rooftop restaurant by scaling the damn skyscraper.

Vitaliy Raskalov
Don't be scared. There's a convenient haystack right under him.

It's slow-motion parkour for insane people. Or more specifically, for people who are even more insane than those who do regular parkour. And they're almost definitely all some kind of mutant, since nature instilled in us a fear of heights for a damn good reason. If you're within arm's reach of a sturdy surface to hold onto, check out this video of some guys scaling the world's second-tallest building, all the way to its horrifying pinnacle:

Buildering is usually illegal, because even if suicide isn't a crime where you live, it's still generally frowned upon to ruin somebody's brand new Kia with your exploding skull. Still, it makes for some amazing photos:

Vitaliy Raskalov
The photographer then tried a selfie. He will be missed.

Buildering was pioneered by Alain Robert, who gained a reputation as the "real-life Spider-Man" after scaling the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Willis Tower, all without the help of climbing gear or basic common sense.

Ramon Espinosa/AP
Spider-man, Spider-man. Does whatever a spider can.
Makes us all pee with dread. Plummets down. Strikes us dead.

5
Urban Horseback Riding

Martha Camarillo

Welcome to John Singleton's reboot of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Martha Camarillo
Also known as Cowboyz n the Hood.

This isn't the cover of 2015's hottest new mixtape -- it's the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club in the middle of Philadelphia. They're horse riding hobbyists based smack in the middle of some of the toughest neighborhoods in Philly. The riding club is home to around 30 horses and serves as a kind of youth outreach program. The club provides work for kids from disadvantaged neighborhoods, some of whom are in rehabilitation for past crimes, and others who are simply looking for a new hobby or a really unexpected way to pick up dates.

Martha Camarillo
Yeah, ladies love horses. And the sounds of Ginuwine.

The members of the Fletcher Street club forego painted barns and grizzly cowhands for brick apartments and kids staring slack-jawed in the middle of jump-roping, wondering if somebody spiked their Fun Dip. Maybe stopping every so often to shoot a few hoops. The ... riders shoot the hoops. The horses mostly stand there.

They're horses.

Ron Tarver
And no, they don't play H-O-R-S-E. Have some respect.

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4
Urban Golf

Sol Neelman/Wired

Golf is not a sport of the people. There's a huge barrier of entrance, and it's not only the clubs and balls -- you need access to a massive, expensive course just to partake. Or you could make like the Doobie Brothers and take it to the streets.

Sol Neelman/NY Times
But wear traditional golf attire. Let's not get too crazy now.

Enthusiasts all over the world are replacing sand traps and lakes for cars, drains, and hobos who are trying to get some damn sleep. Evidently the thrills of miniature golf, with its animatronic clowns and rotating robot castles, don't live up to the thrill of lobbing a ball directly into a street riot and trying to avoid getting shot while remaining under par.

Warren Ptera
"Rat headshot! That's two free strokes."

Urban golf, or "cross golf," tends to be a lot more flexible on the rules than traditional golf. It's usually played with tennis balls, because while you might still be pretty pissed off after catching an errant tennis ball to the face while walking around downtown, at least it wasn't a golf ball, so you'll still be conscious enough to beat the hell out of the guy that hit it at you.

And due to the fact that randomly drilling holes into the pavement is discouraged by every city except for Boston, the "holes" are often substituted with targets such as trash cans or fire hydrants.

Peter Marshall
"We use hobo pee puddles for water hazards."

The first urban golf club started back in 2005 in Portland (where else?), and has since taken the world by storm. Many groups have added improvised point deductions for such faux pas as hitting buses, having your ball run over by a car, or clocking cyclists in the head.

Wait, "deductions?" That must have been a typo. No way you bounce a tennis ball off a biker at 70 yards and lose points.

3
Street Surfing

Ildar Gumerov

Your uncle who posts Fox News stories on Facebook is wrong: Climate change is real. If your city isn't permanently flooded in the near future, you'll at least experience some temporary, light Venice-ing when an inexplicable hurricane lands. But why worry about it? When life gives you lemons, you have a lemon party. When life gives you a flooded city, you bust out the wakeboard.

Ildar Gumerov
Your uncle swears that wakeboarding isn't torture.

Street wakeboarding, sometimes referred to as "redneck wakeboarding" (their term, not ours -- though we can't say we disagree with it) is exactly what it says on the box: boarding on flooded streets rather than rivers or lakes, usually hooked up to a car or truck instead of a boat. Or if you don't want to get your truck wet, you can take a lesson from these folks in Munich who are making urban surfing a thing.

whereisdarrennow.com
"This way, David Hasselhoff's SURE to come visit!"

For reasons that are hopefully obvious, trying to surf or wakeboard on flooded streets and raging aqueducts is illegal in a lot of places, and if it's not, it's probably only because your city never assumed they'd have to tell people not to do this.

Or this.

blog.kingofwatersports.com


Still, the absurdly dangerous activity has been documented in Russia, the UK, the good old USA, and pretty much anywhere else where streets occasionally flood and thrill seekers don't really understand the concept of risk vs. reward.

Bernhard Hinterberger
Still, it's more fun than balancing in the subway, with about an equal chance of death.

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2
Kayaking the L.A. "River"

Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

The L.A. River isn't exactly the most majestic and picturesque of America's rivers. Well, we suppose technically you could take pictures of rusting cars and floating dog carcasses, but it generally violates the spirit of the word. Encased almost entirely within a concrete channel, the 48-mile-long "river" is extremely polluted, discolored, and smells about how you'd imagine something called "the L.A. River" would smell. And if you would like, you can take a kayak tour. Spoiler: You probably will not like.

Plenty Magazine
Even the L.A. Grand Theft Auto game cut out kayaking, saying, "That's sick. We have standards."

In recent years, the city council has been opening the river to recreational activities like kayaking and fishing in an effort to pretend that it's not a dystopian wasteland in denial.

KCET Departures
"Smog? What is this 'smog' of which you speak? Is that a word for 'small frog?'"

Of course, since much of the river is little more than ankle-deep, "kayaking" tends to involve getting out of your kayak and dragging it along the concrete for long stretches.

Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times
Along with your pride.

Given this, and the fact that the scenery is nothing but miles of high cement walls, floating garbage, and industrial warehouses, an L.A. River kayak tour is probably not intended for the nature lover. But if you love kayaking and hate scenery, give it a shot!

Linda Ly
It's not like there's anywhere else in L.A. where you can go for water sports!

1
Skiing In Downtown Detroit

Poor Boyz Productions

Skiing is for the rich alone. They're the only ones who can afford the plane tickets to the mountains, the costly lodges, the lift passes, those puffy vests worn over white turtlenecks ...

No longer!

Does it snow where you live? Is there a hill? Well, like the great philosopher Kierkegaard once said: "Fuck it, let's go skiing."

He probably said it. At some point. You don't know his whole life.

Poor Boyz Productions
K-Dawg was into some Xtreme shit.

Urban Skiing can technically be performed anywhere that has frozen water and slopes, but a group of winter sports enthusiasts have decided to flaunt their skills year-round in Detroit (resorting to fake snow when the weather doesn't play ball), and turn abandoned buildings into makeshift ski resorts.

Poor Boyz Productions
It's safer than resorting to fake snow when you're a dealer, which can send you into a makeshift grave.

And if there's one thing Detroit has plenty of, it's shady hot dog joints. If there are two things Detroit has plenty of, they are shady hot dog joints and abandoned everything. Car parks, strip malls, factories, warehouses -- everything is fair game if you're up to date on your tetanus shots.

Poor Boyz Productions
Just be prepared for other shots, too.

It's not only Detroit. When it snows in Portland, Oregon, as it rarely does, locals participate in a cross-"country" skiing race. The race twists through the streets, into car parks, and down stairwells. So if there's one thing you take away from this, let it be this: If you ever visit Portland, you will probably die in some sort of freak sporting accident while trying to get to your damn car.

Creep on G.W. Horowitz right here.

For more ridiculously awesome athletics, check out 5 Insane Real Sports They Need to Add to the Olympics and 6 Ancient Sports Too Awesome For the Modern World.

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