Harmless Hobbies That Are Being Rocked By Controversy

Competitions like the Blackawton International Festival of Wormcharming or the Petaluma World's Ugliest Dog Contest might make local papers wet themselves with excitement at the prospect of interviewing a pack of genuine oddballs. But what happens when things go wrong? Just because something is fun and wacky on the surface doesn't mean it isn't filled with dark secrets. Look at how ...

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Quidditch Is A Leading Cause Of Concussions In Women

Real life doesn't have CGI, so actual quidditch players run around with broomsticks tucked between their legs, and the "golden snitch" is some dude dressed in gold with a tennis ball stuffed down his pants.

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But for all the talk of magic and broomsticks, quidditch is still a full-contact sport. Even in the fantastic wizarding world, Harry is injured so many times that he definitely has some kind of magical CTE. Muggle quidditch is no different, often leaving players with broken noses, black eyes, busted lips, cracked ribs, and concussions. One EMT assigned to a tournament claimed that "I've had eight concussions, two people taken to the hospital, bloody noses, scrapes, twisted ankles. I stopped counting injuries after 10." At the 2010 Quidditch World Cup alone, six players were hospitalized, and the sport's commissioner has said that he "lives in constant fear of someone getting killed." If nothing else, it would be such a goddamn stupid way to go.

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Quidditch is a mix of dweebs who would never otherwise touch a sportsball and hardcore athletes who care way less about your stupid baby books than they do about having another excuse to pummel someone. Think of football, but the quarterback of one team is a 6'4" ex-Marine, and the other is a teenage girl in a Hufflepuff scarf. Throw in the fact that official quidditch rules dictate that teams cannot be single-gender, and you've got a 2017 study that found "a statistically significantly different rate of concussion ... with female athletes sustaining more concussion than males." Still less harmful than The Crimes Of Grindelwald, though.

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An Anonymous Equestrian Whistleblower Turned Out To Be Somebody Very Surprising

In December 2016, the popular equestrian forum Chronicle of the Horse (yes, that is its name) collapsed in on itself when user stormy17 posted a list of serious accusations against well-known rider and horse trainer Ellen Doughty-Hume (yes, that is her name). The most damning accusation was that Doughty-Hume left one of stormy17's horses out during a flash flood, killing the horse

The post has been a <i>teensy</i> bit edited since then.Chronofhorse.comThe post has been a teensy bit edited since then.

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The post blew up, with dozens of pages of comments and spinoff threads, as others also alleged that Doughty-Hume mistreated or killed their horses. This is the juiciest horse gossip, from accusations that Doughty-Hume faked a horse's medical records and smuggled it across state lines to outrageous jump-lowering allegations. And that was before it was revealed that stormy17 was none other than adult entertainer and political figurehead Stormy Daniels. It turns out that when she's not at her day job, Daniels is an accomplished amateur horse rider who competes under her real name, Stephanie Crane. Listen, people contain multitudes.

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It took two years for Doughty-Hume to respond to the allegations, which she did by suing Daniels. Claiming the whole thing was a dirty smear campaign, Doughty-Hume accused Daniels of calling her "autistic and mentally challenged," and her husband "a drunk." At that point, Michael Avenatti -- of "helping to sue Donald Trump and being indicted on multiple counts of tax evasion, extortion, fraud, and embezzlement" fame -- enters the story. Acting as Daniels' defense attorney, he said that the lawsuit was "complete nonsense and entirely bogus." Considering that a year later, he and Daniels would be facing off against each other in court, you've got to take his legal advice with a cube of sugar.

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Curling Had A "Broomgate"

Curling has endured many controversies, just like any other Olympic sport. Its biggest scandal was (ugh) Broomgate, a debacle so fierce that it eventually necessitated the direct intervention of Canada's National Research Council. Basically, the brooms used to steer stones across ice were getting too good, to the point that human skill was becoming irrelevant. Some curlers believed modern science had created a foul Frankenbroom that could defy the laws of physics and God, guiding the stones as if by foul sorcery, while others thought these weirdos needed to get a life.

Which seems like an especially hot burn from someone who's committed their life to professional curling.Robert Przybysz/ShutterstockWhich seems like an especially hot burn from someone who's committed their life to professional curling.

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In response to the controversy, the World Curling Federation held a "Sweeping Summit" in 2016, and probably didn't even giggle about it. That's how serious this issue is. Scientists from the National Research Council and top curlers from around the world gathered to test 50 different brooms, in a sequence of events that demands a whimsically scored montage. They used lasers, GPS, and even actual robots.

Then they announced a series of sensible adjustments and recommendations for the sport that seem to have mostly satisfied the community. The recommendations themselves are a bit inside baseball, but summit attendee Nolan Thiessen dramatically remarked that "it was the only solution we could stomach" -- forcing us to assume that the alternatives involved cannibalism. Canadians are serious about their curling.

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An Embroidery Competition Led To Mass Hate-Stitching

In 2018, embroidery floss company DMC launched a competition for members of the public to send in designs to be featured on their website. It doesn't get more wholesome outside of a best boy competition where all the dogs get trophies, right? The problem was that the grand prize for this competition was what some call "exposure," but what most freelancers call "nothing." To top it all off, every artist who submitted a design was required to waive their rights to republish that pattern anywhere else. The embroidery community, never selfish or greedy, sent in their designs anyway. Some were poetic:

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Some were heartfelt pleas to do better:

And some had a slightly more colorful message for DMC:

Unsurprisingly, DMC hastily announced a $500 prize. But you didn't think this stitch-up was the only recent scandal in the textile crafts world, did you? Fools.

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In 2019, the world's largest social media network for knitters (yep), Ravelry, decided to ban any expression of support for Donald Trump, stating that "Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy." You might think there isn't a huge cross-section of hardcore craft enthusiasts and Trump voters, and you would be ... mostly right. Some disgruntled members did delete their accounts. But a whole lot of Trump supporters who couldn't tell a crochet hook from a whip stitch flooded the site with inflammatory messages until the overwhelmed moderators were forced to close all new member registration. You know, until they could figure out what the hell was going on.

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Synchronized Swimming Cripples Swimmers

Synchronized swimming might seem to fall into the same category as volleyball, i.e. "Olympic sports that your creepy uncle always insisted on watching with a pillow on his lap." But the sport is surprisingly hardcore (not in that way). The U.S. Olympic Committee's managing director for sports medicine claimed that half the synchronized swimming team suffered concussions at some point while he was supervising them, while the chief executive of USA Synchro (the sport's national organizing body) disputed the claim by countering that the number is ... much higher. She admitted that "100% of [her] athletes will get a concussion at some point," and didn't get arrested on the spot because everyone was too busy laughing about those stupid bonnets.

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Now we're beginning to wonder if the bonnets are to keep all that ear blood out of the water.

It might seem a little counterintuitive that a sport so dependent on coordination has so many high-impact collisions, and 30 years ago, it was. Over time, however, the sport has gotten more competitive, and as formations became more intricate, the 1980s began to see swimmers performing only 2-3 feet apart. Now it's shrunk to an average of just 8 inches. At those distances, a single mistimed flutter kick can easily send someone to the emergency room.

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To make matters worse, the symptoms of a concussion (like dizziness and blurred vision) are exactly the same as, say, swimming upside-down or holding your breath for long periods. Mariya Koroleva, an American swimmer who competed in London in 2012, claimed that there's culture of "suck it up." Even if an athlete does realize they've been injured, they might not report it for fear of losing their place on the team. Imagine working that hard to rise to such a high level in the world of water disco, all for nothing.

Related: 5 Hobbies You Loved As A Child (And Why They Suck)

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One Woman's Crusade To Remove All Slurs From Scrabble

When Judith Grad sat down to play a good old-fashioned game of Scrabble back in 1993, she had no idea she would change the game forever. On that fateful day, her opponent played the word "Jew," which she challenged, on the basis that it's a proper noun. They looked it up in the official Scrabble dictionary and were horrified to find out that Grad's opponent was correct. The word they played was valid, in the form of antisemitic slang meaning "haggle" or "bargain with." Grad wrote to Hasbro and Merriam-Webster, arguing that the slur and dozens like it had no place in a children's game and should be removed. She was politely declined, on the grounds that it was their job to list the English language, not judge it.

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Only emboldened by this rejection, Grad began a determined letter-writing campaign, arguing that there was a difference between the regular dictionary and the Scrabble dictionary. After she wrote to a number of Jewish advocacy groups for support, the Anti-Defamation League stepped up and wrote a letter to the chairman of Hasbro, accusing him of "literally playing games with hate." One woman could be ignored, but the ADL's reach is wide and mighty, so Mr. Hasbro announced the removal of 50-100 words from The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.

That probably should have been the end of the matter, but the decision caused an uproar in the apparently sizable community of hardcore Scrabble players who were also passionate about free speech issues. After players threatened to boycott tournaments, National Scrabble Association President John Williams called for a compromise. The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary could remain sanitized, but it would be supplemented by an Official Tournament and Club Word List (or OWL for short), which contained all the naughty words that could be used for tournament play only. The Scrabble war was solved just like all wars should be: with the sudden and unexplained arrival of a remarkably profane OWL.

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