9 Niche Hobbies That Get Insanely Competitive

Even for the weirdest interests, there’s somebody who is so much better at it than you
9 Niche Hobbies That Get Insanely Competitive

Given the sheer amount of people in the world, and the endless variety of brain wirings that creates, even the weirdest use of time you can think of is probably the life’s work of at least a couple glorious weirdos. 

Now, thanks to the internet, those weirdos are able to track each other down. Which, of course, naturally evolves into a competition to find out exactly which of them is the best to ever do it. Even if “it” is something other people only even think about once or twice a year, and that’s being generous.

Here are nine niche hobbies with full-on competitive scenes…

Cup Stacking

More than an inescapable bit of improvised rhythm from a movie I never cared to see, cup stacking is very serious for the world’s best. A visit to the website SpeedStacks.com will give you an idea of just how big “sport stacking” is, with its own equipment and a dedicated association: the World Sport Stacking Association.

Arm Wrestling

It’s not like there’s any lack of machismo in sports, but if you want one that feels even more testosterone-laden than most, might I point you toward professional arm wrestling? Both a battle of pure strength and perhaps an excuse to hold hands tightly with another man while keeping toxic masculinity intact, if you want to see it live, check out the World Armwrestling League, with an open sponsored by Buffalo Wild Wings.

Excel Spreadsheets

Maybe the only pursuit on this list that could be feasibly bullied by the rest is the journey to become the world’s best… Exceller? Spreadsheeter? I don’t know the terminology, and I refuse to give that particular fact any space in my brain. If your company needs their books balanced in record time, though, you might want to seek out one of the Microsoft Office Suite mercenaries competing in the Financial Modeling World Cup.


What’s nerdier than a board game? A board game that requires reading the dictionary. But if that’s your wave, more power to you. Learn enough antiquated and useless words, and you, too, might be able to hoist the cup at the World Scrabble Championship.


I thought we’d left marbles in the past with the likes of the hoop-and-stick. I can play Final Fantasy on my phone, so why would I be carrying around a tightly-cinched, clacking monstrosity of a sack just to play marbles? All opinions that would get dozens of small hard spheres fired at my head at the World Marbles Championships.


Okay, even the Excel guys might be able to get away with giving wedgies at the Beyblade championships. A weird, fleeting craze that was almost definitely an attempt to edge in on other cartoon-toy combo economic monsters. Apparently, though, Yu-Gi-Oh and Digimon’s weird distant cousin is still around, competitions and all.


I think most people play pinball the same way: with a mixture of disinterest and confusion. It’s something to play if you’ve got spare change and your friend’s running late to the bar. For those who put the time in, though, it’s a deeply skill-based game of physics and reaction time, and there are competitions all over the country. If you want to finally learn how to light up that one big Godzilla head near the back, head to the International Flipper Pinball Association's website and find a hot spot near you.


An incredibly broad hobby spanning pretty much all of video games in general is the bona fide phenomenon of speedrunning. If you’re not a fan of video games, or even a casual one, you might not know just how massive of a community speedrunning is. People compete to set world records completing all sorts of games, everything from your classic Super Mario Bros. or Donkey Kong, to more obscure titles like the exceedingly strange McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure

Leading the charge to relevance is the annual speedrunning convention Games Done Quick, which raises millions of dollars for charity twice a year.

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