Offbeat Sporting Events From Around the World

We dwell in an odd and unusual world – a fact made clearer when we encounter how different cultures across the world define the word “sport”. No matter where you go in the world, there is an intriguing recreational activity to suit your fancy. So, how about we delve deeper into these offbeat sports and understand them?

  • Frisbee

Frisbee

In the midst of slinging a cake pan back and forth with his future wife at a beach in 1938, American inventor Walter Frederick Morrison found the bankability of the Flying Disc, which would gradually go on to be named Frisbee, when someone paid 25 cents for it.

Excited, both Morrison and his wife decided to initiate a business selling cake pans to toss around for the same price until World War II. Walter Morrison served in the Army Air Force during this period where he learnt something of aerodynamics while flying a Republic P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft.

Following his return from service Walter Frederick Morrison formulated schemes for the world’s first flying disc in 1946, which an investor named Warren Franscioni paid for shaping the design in plastic in 1948. Called the ‘Flying-Saucer’, the disc did not succeed in achieving good sales to begin with, leading to the decline of Franscioni and Morrison’s partnership in 1950.

After discovering that he could manufacture his own discs for even cheaper, Morrison and his wife designed the Pluto Platter, which formed the foundation of the modern flying discs. The couple sold the rights to their disc to the Wham-O toy company on January 23, 1957, which was also Morrison’s birthday and the invention was renamed Frisbee by June 1957 after the company discovered that several college students were calling it by that name.

The Frisbee or the flying disc has become popular over the years. Several hybrid games involving Frisbees are played all over the world.

The game of Guts was invented by the Healy Brothers in the 1950s and evolved at the International Frisbee Tournament (IFT) in Eagle Harbor, Michigan. The game of Ultimate, the most extensively played disc game, commenced in organized sport with the formation of the Ultimate Players Association with Dan Roddick, Tom Kennedy and Irv Kalb. Double Disc Court was invented and launched in the early 1970s by Jim Palmeri. In 1974, freestyle competition was created and established by Ken Westerfield and Discrafts Jim Kenner. The game Disc Golf was invented in 1976 with targets called “pole holes” invented and developed by Wham-O’s Headrick.

  • Wife Carrying

wife carrying

This sport, which was initially launched in Sonkajarvi, Finland, is a competition where the male competitors race while carrying a female teammate each. The aim is to clear an obstacle track in the quickest time.

Various kinds of carry, like the piggyback, fireman’s carry (wherein the woman is carried over the man’s shoulders), Estonian style (wherein the woman hangs upside-down with her legs around her husband’s shoulders while gripping his waist) are executed.

Wife carrying is currently observed in Australia, USA, Hong Kong, Estonia and other regions of the world besides Finland, and has a category in the Guinness Book of Records.

The game’s inception story is told in three versions all consisting of a man named Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen, leader of a group of thieves. First, Rosvo-Ronkainen and his thieves were blamed of stealing food and women from villages in the region he resided in; then carried these women on their backs as they ran away. In another folklore, it has been said that young men would go to villages, steal other men’s wives by carrying the women on their backs, and then force them to become their own wife. In addition, one last story says that there was the idea that Rosvo-Ronkainen trained his thieves to be agile and fitter by carrying big, heavy sacks on their backs, which may have gradually matured to become a sport.

In January 1, 2011, an environmental awareness group organised a Wife Carrying Race in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, which was on the other hand titled ‘Bhaaryaasametham’, roughly translated as ‘with your wife’ in Malayalam. A glimpse of this unusual and offbeat sport was seen in the climax of a 2015 Bollywood film, ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’. 

  • Quidditch

Quidditch

The fabled game from the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise was adapted in real life in 2005 at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, USA. The game employs the same rules as the concocted sport with the exception of flying brooms. Instead, players must carry a broom between their legs at all times while running and throw volleyballs replaced for ‘quaffles’(the ball utilized for scoring points) through golden hoops. Dodgeballs are used instead of ‘bludgers’ (the balls which the ‘beaters’ utilize to obstruct the opposing team’s players from scoring). A tennis ball is utilized instead of the ‘golden snitch’ carried by the snitch runner.

After commencing in 2005, the sport grew to the point where, in 2007, the premier “IQA World Cup” ensued with Middlebury acquiring the place of top team. Since then, annually until 2014, there was a “World Cup” within the United States where collegiate and community teams would compete to be the best team.

  • Cheese Rolling

cheese rolling

A round of cheese is rolled from the top of a hill and competitors are needed to race down after it. The first to cross the finish line at the bottom wins the cheese. 

The yearly event known as Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake is held on the Spring Bank Holiday at Cooper’s Hill near Gloucester in England. The cheese used during the game is a Double Gloucester. A foam replica was utilized in 2013 for safety purposes. It is conventionally by and for the people who reside in the local village of Brockworth, but presently people from all across the world have taken part in it.

Innumerable injuries to participants have taken place due to the steepness and uneven surface of the hill. In theory, participants’ objective is to catch the cheese; although, it has about a one-second head start and can reach speeds up to 112 km/h, enough to knock over and injure a spectator.

  • Beer Pong

Beer Pong

This drinking game also known as Beirut consists of two teams of two players each with 6 or 10 cups filled with beer set up in a triangle formation on each side. The aim is to throw a ping-pong or table tennis ball in a cup of beer on the other end.

Each team then takes turns trying to shoot the balls into the opponent’s cups. If a ball lands in a cup, which is known as a “make”, the other team consumes the contents of that cup and it is removed from the table. The first team to eliminate all of the opponent’s cups is the winner.

Beer pong is said to have its inception within the fraternities of Dartmouth College in the US in the 1950s and 1960s. The authentic version resembled an actual ping-pong contest with a net and one or more cups of beer on each side of the table.

Beer pong tournaments are held in the United States at the local, regional, and national levels with the World Series of Beer Pong (WSOBP) being the biggest beer pong tournament across the world. The game has invited criticism to what many consider could lead to binge drinking, alcohol poisoning and several ill-health effects due to the game’s nature.

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