5 Sports Invented By Certifiable Nutjobs
The fact is, most sports, including the biggest ones in the world, only avoid seeming deeply strange because we’re so familiar with them. Even on billion-dollar scales, there’s not much more to them outside of “something that’s fun to play and fun to watch.” Take all that away, and as numerous intolerable bits from “smart” comedians will tell you, “Who cares how far some guy can hit a little ball while he runs in a circle?”
Millions of people, you loser. Because the ball is hard to hit, it goes far and it’s suspenseful and fun, you joyless ghoul. Some sports, though, take their inexplicability to the next level.
Here are five insane sports invented by big-time weirdos…
I’m sure if you’re a big brute of a fella best known for wailing on your peers, people have certain expectations of you. Expectations that are more likely to involve brain damage than above-average brain activity. After all, more people know about Dolph Lundgren’s ripped, oily body than his Fulbright Scholarship to MIT for chemical engineering.
So how do you show people your aptitude in both the arenas of brains and brawn? Well, you stick a couple rounds of speed chess into the middle of your boxing matches. By middle, I mean literally, in between rounds, in the middle of the ring. First invented in theory by a comic book artist, but adapted into a genuine sporting event, participants alternate between four-minute rounds of chess and three-minute rounds of boxing. Securing either a checkmate or a knockout wins you the bout, though only one outcome requires medics. A match can also end in a judge’s decision, where the audience loses.
We’ll go from full use of body and brain in perfect harmony to an extremely anatomically isolated physical face-off. Specifically, the sport of toe wrestling. Now, for this article, I did attempt to only choose events that have a real, quantifiable following. Otherwise I could go outside and try to swallow an egg, shell and all, and call it my own “weird new sport.” You might think toe-wrestling is another such discipline, participated in basically once or twice for the purpose of a Ripley’s Believe It or Not photographer.
Toe wrestling has far outperformed what was probably expected of it when it was invented by (of course) some drunk friends at a pub, and it’s had its own annual championship since 1976. As to the actual practice, think somewhere between arm and thumb wrestling and then send it south. Competitors lock big toes and attempt to force the other foot-fighter’s tootsie down a la arm wrestling.
Cycling is a massive sport by itself, but victory is achieved in most disciplines through pure speed and/or endurance. Sure, mountain bikers might benefit from their handlebar mastery, but the finish line is still priority one. What sport is there, then, for people who are just really good at fucking around on a bike? Enter cycleball. It was invented by a German-American man named Nicholas Edward Kaufmann, and it’s been around a whole lot longer than you’d expect.
This isn’t some modern weird-for-the-sake-of-weird Bushwick creation either, but a century-and-a-half sport that’s existed since Kaufmann came up with it in 1888. It’s closest in description to somewhere between indoor soccer and roller hockey, but, obviously, on a bike. Only the bike or the rider’s head is permitted to touch the ball, whether passing or shooting. Further requiring peak bike agility and balance, for the entirety of each seven minute half, any player touching the ground with their foot is penalized.
Not all sports need a thick rulebook. Sometimes, a sport can achieve success through immediate, instinctive understanding of the ultimate goal. Face-slapping, as its beautifully concise name would suggest, is pretty easy to grasp. It’s probably a sport most dudes have invented themselves, given a living room, a weekend and sufficient beer.
I’ll explain the rules, for anyone who has lost all ability at imagination due to some sort of brain accident. Two competitors stand across from each other at an official but largely unnecessary table and take turns slapping the living shit out of each other, five slaps apiece, and if both are still standing, a judge makes the final decision. The worst part? As silly as it seems, it’s extremely dangerous, given that no defense is allowed, so it’s basically a concussion-off. One guy that definitely doesn’t think it’s silly is the man who died after a competition.
Yeah, no, fuck this. A fake wizard sport invented by a transphobic lady, played with all the cool parts removed in order to give ultimate frisbee players someone to make fun of.
Eli Yudin is a stand-up comedian in Brooklyn. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @eliyudin and listen to his podcast, What A Time to Be Alive, about the five weirdest news stories of the week, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever else you get your podcasts.