Friday, July 16, 2010

Countdown Friday: The Greatest Sports You've Never Seen

There are already plenty of great sports to watch. Basketball, baseball, hockey, football, and - more recently - soccer have all become popular professional sports in America. But what about those of us who want to explore deeper into the world of sports? Sure, the traditional American lineup provides us with hours and hours of entertainment, but there are lots of other great sports out there. We've combed issue after issue of Obscure Sports Quarterly, scoured the intraweb, and even - it hurts to say - watched Versus in order to bring you the top 10 sports you've never (or barely) seen.

10. Underwater Hockey / Octopush - Underwater hockey is exactly what it sounds like. This video makes me nauseous, much like the thought of playing hockey underwater. But I'm still intrigued.

9. Swamp Soccer - If you've ever played soccer in the rain, you can image how fun swamp soccer might be. It certainly is entertaining, even if it looks like the first 30 seconds of a Tide commercial.

8. Rugby - Sure, you've heard of rugby, and you've probably seen it. But raise your hand if you actually understand it. Rugby makes this list because it's one of those sports that's very exciting, but only if you comprehend what's going on. It hasn't gotten big in the U.S. because there's no glamor, no room for "superstar" images. But it sure is fun to watch, especially when you want to see grown men beat the crap out of each other and bleed a lot.

7. Wife Carrying - The man runs over hurdles, through water, and up hills while the woman holds on for dear life. It sounds as boring as it seems bizarre. And yet somehow, I love it.

6. Cheese Rolling - Occasionally featured on ESPN's Not Top 10, cheese rolling looks like one of the worst ideas in the history of man. But it sure is fun to watch. The rules are simple: a wedge of cheese is rolled down a steep hill. Be the first to pick it up. And oh yeah, try not to die.

5. Rock, Paper, Scissors - Sure you know the game, but did you know there's actually a league? What I'm wondering is how the rules can be longer than three lines: rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper, paper beats rock, duh. My favorite term from the RPS glossary? The "peace out, bitch."

4. Bossaball - If you've ever thought to yourself, "I want to like volleyball, but it's just so boring" then you're not alone. Lucky for you, there's bossaball. It's volleyball with soccer juggling skills mixed in played on a giant inflatable court with trampolines in the middle. Yep, that's pretty much the only way to describe it.

3. Chess Boxing - Because it's hilarious. Players begin with a four-minute round of chess, which is followed by a three-minute round of boxing. To add to the excitement, the form of chess used is "speed chess," in which each player only has 12 minutes to complete the game. The match lasts a total of up to 11 rounds. The ways to win are by knockout, by checkmate, by judges' decision, or by a timeout (if your opponent goes over 12 minutes in chess).

2. Team Handball - Handball has not yet become popular in America, but it has all the necessary ingredients: a fast pace, highlight reel plays, and lots & lots of scoring. Even more fun than watching handball? Playing.

1. Slamball - Everyone who has ever owned the two most fun recreational objects - a trampoline and a basketball hoop - has had the same brilliant idea: what if we combined them?!?! Well, Mason Gordon had the knowhow and the entrepreneurial skills to turn this backyard idea into a professional league. Slamball is a full contact sport that combines basketball rules with hockey attitudes. And oh yeah, 8 trampolines. My favorite part? There are no free throws. When an infraction occurs, the player who was fouled goes up against the guy who fouled him in a face-off, a 1-on-1 showdown that almost guarantees a mid-air collision in front of the hoop.

Honorable Mentions 
Extreme Ironing - Yep, it's a thing.
Bikini mud wrestling - Because we're men.
Mindball - Players are connected to brainwave machines and try to move a ball by being as relaxed as possible. OK, sure.

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