Unusual Sports

And Now For The Sports News……….

If you’re not much of a sports fan then please don’t turn the page yet!

When we talk about sport we normally think of football, cricket, rugby, golf, tennis etc. but the world of sport has something for everyone. No, really!!

Years ago maybe we had thoughts that we had the chance of becoming a sporting hero, or at least compete in something ‘sporty’. Surely anyone can throw a few darts at a board whilst consuming 10 pints of beer or pot a few coloured balls whilst sipping a whisky on the rocks. No months of hard, physical training required there and the only likely injury was a hangover or darts/snooker player’s elbow!

In today’s world of sport, however, even darts players and snooker players need to maintain some element of physical and mental fitness as the stakes and money involved are high. Between stepping up to the oche or the green baize, players can now be seen sipping from bottles of mineral water! ‘The Crafty Cockney’ and ‘Hurricane Higgins’ wouldn’t stand a chance so what hope have we, as perhaps modest sporting participants, got?

Well maybe the world of obscure sports has something for everyone, even those who have some degree of skill and fitness but need something more than just kicking a bag of air into a net or hitting a tiny ball 500 yards into a hole the size of a tea cup!

The Top Ten Obscure Sports in the world include sports which would still have some of us reaching for the TV remote as a spectator rather than participant, including the World Highland Games (I burn logs not chuck ‘em!), Surf Lifesaving (energetic water sport with the added thrill of cardiac arrest!) and Footbag (football with a bean bag!).

However, at number 4 in the top 10 is something we can all have a go at and started in the good old US of A. Rock, Paper Scissors!

I can hear you all groan, “Only in the States” but there is a whole association dedicated to this non-contact, non-energetic pastime. Some say this sport started as long ago as 6.3 million years ago in East Africa but whatever the claims, fast forward to January 2006 and the USARPS (United States of America Rock Paper Scissors) League was formed.

For those of you still confused as to what this sport is all about you may have actually dabbled in it yourself without even knowing it. Particularly if you ever had to resolve a dispute or come to a decision as to whose turn it is to get the take away!

Simply, at the count of 3 both contestants make their hand into a shape representing either a rock (clenched fist), paper (spread fingered hand) or scissors (forefinger and middle finger made like a pair of scissors). The winner of the round is the contestant with the winning shape thus, paper covers a rock; scissors cut paper; rock blunts scissors. A draw is called if the shapes match and the players ‘draw’ again. The sport embodies everything applied to more strenuous activities – aggression, cunning and intensity!

“OK”, I hear you say, “But that’s not really sport anymore than bog snorkelling or cheese rolling!” But try telling that to the bog snorkelling and cheese rolling champions! Then what about something more skilful but still a little different?

Unicycle Hockey, combines sport with the circus! This probably needs less explaining than Rock, Paper, Scissors but a damn site more practice, I would suggest. So, a little history.

Unicycle Hockey made its first appearance in a 1925 German silent movie, Variete and since then hasn’t looked back! Well, apart from the next reference apparently being in 1960 when the Albuquerque Unicycle Club was recorded as playing hockey, amongst other things. What happened in the intervening years is anyone’s guess but Unicycle Hockey really hit the big time when, in 1985, a German team started playing calling themselves LAHIMO. As they were the only team in Germany until 1990, one can only guess the games were a little one-sided and predictable. Not a spectator sport, for sure!

There are only two national leagues for the sport in Germany and Great Britain but World Championships have been held in Minnesota, USA in 1994, Guildford, England in 1996 and Bottrop, Germany in 1998.

So get that unicycle dusted down and get training for London 2012! You never know!

So onto the final obscure sport to be featured from the top 10. It is claimed this sport was started in Leicester, England in 1997 and combines the extreme nature of some outdoor sports with the household chores. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, describes it as, “the latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.”

Yes, folks, we’re talking Extreme Ironing!

This sport simply requires you to take your ironing board, iron and a few creased items of clothing to an extreme place. This can be a mountain, in a forest, in lakes and rivers or even in crowded public places. So it is now possible for London commuters to do their ironing on the tube on the way into work and look smart by the time they reach their destination. All in the name of sport!

Competitors in this pastime even have their own pseudonyms. They include Spray and Starch, two participants who are responsible for starting Extreme Ironing. Spray (aka Phil) started after returning from work faced with a pile of ironing which he didn’t fancy. His real hobby was rock climbing so he decided to combine the two and the sport was born.

Once again those crazy Germans got in on the act and in 2002 the first World Championships took place in the village of Valley near Munich. The winner of the individual event was the German ironist, Hot Pants, with Britain winning the team event. Other countries taking part were Austria, Croatia, Chile and Australia.

So there we go, sport can be for everyone and the opportunities are there for us all to become a champion without the hours of running, jumping and watching our diet.

Now, where’s that ironing basket?

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