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Drishti IAS Blog

Unusual Sports Around the World

  • 27 Feb 2024

Sports have a profoundly ingrained place in human civilization, offering opportunities for teamwork, skill development, and pure entertainment. These classic sports are loved by all people, whether it's for the intensity of tennis, the passion of football, or the thrill of cricket. Afterall, Who hasn't waited for the weekend to watch a good game while eating popcorn? Each one of us cheered for our favourite teams and felt sad if they lost. In fact, sports are more than just entertainment; they are an essential part of leisure and competitiveness for people all around the world.

But can you think of any unconventional and unusual sport? No, not cricket or football or volleyball or tennis or hockey. Let me tell you about a few of them which you might have never heard of!

  • Quidditch: I am sure if you are a potterhead, you have heard about Quidditch. But we are no Harry Potter and since there are no flying broomsticks, how is Quidditch even played? Well, in order to score goals, players must sprint around a field dodging opposing players' bludgers, or dodgeballs, as they attempt to throw the ball through hoops. A seeker from each team attempts to find the golden snitch, a neutral person decked out in gold, in order to bring the game to a close. There is even an International Quadball Association, which is the governing body of the sport that came out of the fictional world of JK Rowling’s books and it hosts the IQA World Cup.
  • Cheese Rolling: Originating in Gloucestershire, England, cheese rolling is a wild and thrilling sport in which competitors race a wheel of cheese down a rocky hill. As opponents fall and slide down the slope in pursuit, the cheese wheel may reach speeds of up to seventy miles per hour. Undoubtedly, this is a very dangerous sport with a high risk of injuries and yet, this annual event draws many thrill-seekers from all over the world who are excited to take part. The cheese is won by the first participant to reach the bottom of the hill's finish line. Truth be told, it's an extreme sport and is risky.
  • Toe Wrestling: Have you heard of arm wrestling or thumb wrestling? Fair chance, you've played it too. But imagine wrestling with your toes! Toe wrestling is a strange variation on standard arm wrestling in which two contestants lock toes and attempt to pin the other person's foot to the ground. Since its inception in the 1970s in England, the sport has developed into an annual World Toe Wrestling Championship. Participants must outmanoeuvre their opponents strategically, have strong toes, and flexible feet in order to win. It's a quirky sport that draws both players and viewers with its quirky appeal. It's also entertaining to watch.
  • Wife Carrying: Wife carrying is a peculiar sport that originated in Finland. Male players sprint through an obstacle course while carrying their wives or a female teammate on their backs. While the males negotiate obstacles like water hazards and hurdles, the women usually cling to their partner's neck or shoulders.The sport uses a variety of carrying techniques, such as the fireman's carry and piggyback riding, and the winner is awarded beers according to the weight of the woman he carried. Although the sport's roots are in historical practices in which men would "steal" and carry away their spouses from nearby villages, it is now recognised as a playful game that assesses agility, strength, and collaboration. It has expanded throughout the world, including the USA and Australia.
  • Extreme Ironing: Extreme ironing, blends the ordinary chore of ironing with daring outdoor pursuits. Travelling to far-off and exciting places like mountains, jungles, or even underwater with their ironing boards and clothes, participants iron their clothes in the harsh surroundings. This sport combines elements of outdoor exploration, high-adrenaline games, and housework, frequently producing bizarre and funny pictures of people ironing in unlikely places. As weird as it may sound, people have ironed their shirts on top of a mountain, in the sky as well as underwater!
  • Chess Boxing: Chess boxing is truly a hybrid sport. It combines the mental and physical challenges of boxing and chess, with rounds of boxing interspersed with chess. Competitors engage in both sports with the goal of winning via board checkmate as well as ring knockout. Participants must rapidly transition between strategic thought and physical effort in this test of both mental and physical endurance. Chess boxing matches frequently attract interested onlookers who are captivated by the unusual fusion of brains and athleticism. And if you did not know, it's quite popular in India too.
  • Underwater Hockey: As the name suggests itself, this version of hockey is played underwater. Underwater hockey, often called Octopush, is a game played at the bottom of a swimming pool. Players attempt to move a puck across the pool floor and into the goal of the other team while wearing masks, snorkels, fins, and little poles known as pushers. This sport demands players to have exceptional breath control, speed, and strategy because they must hold their breath while navigating across multiple dimensions. It's a specialised sport with a devoted fan base across several nations, especially among scuba divers.
  • Bossaball: Bossaball is a sport that combines aspects of capoeira, volleyball, soccer, and gymnastics. It is played on an inflatable court with trampolines on either side of a net. Teams typically consist of three to five players, and players can use any part of their body to get the ball over the net. Because of its energetic and acrobatic aspect, the sport, which has its origins in Spain, has gained appeal in many other nations.
  • Sepak Takraw: Sepak Takraw, which originated in Southeast Asia, is essentially a hand-free volleyball game played with a rattan ball. To move the ball over the net, players utilise their heads, knees, chests, and feet. Players in the sport must possess extraordinary coordination, agility, and flexibility as they execute breathtaking aerobatic manoeuvres in order to gain points. It's a really competitive and eye-catching sport that's frequently played at the Asian Games and regional events. It is also known as Buka-ball, Kick-volleyball and Foot-volleyball.
  • Ostrich Racing: Ostrich racing is a sport that originated in South Africa and features jockeys flying atop these massive, flightless birds as they race around a track. It's an exciting and unusual racing experience where participants must keep their balance while leading their ostriches to the finish line. Some of the riders have been known to fall to the ground with their wagons on occasion, and the bird may try to wriggle free of the jockey's grasp if it becomes too uncomfortable. Regardless, because of the distinctive combination of speed and entertainment in this race, Ostrich racing draws many spectators.
  • Unicycle Hockey: Simply put, unicycle hockey is hockey played on a unicycle. Five players make up each team, and they are required to always have both feet on the unicycle. The object of the game is, of course, to score points by placing the tennis ball in the goal of the other team. The equipment used is a tennis ball and regular ice hockey sticks.
  • Wok Racing: Wok racing is a fast-paced racing sport that combines cooking tools with speed. Competitors race downhill on modified woks, usually on tracks made of snow or ice. Inside the woks, participants direct and drive themselves ahead using their feet. Though it started off as a unique event in Germany, the sport has already spread to other nations, drawing both foodies and thrill-seekers.
  • Man vs Horse Marathon: Surely, you have heard about horse racing and might have seen one. But have you heard of men racing with horses? The event started in 1980 after an argument between two men in a local pub over a question- whether human beings can outpace a horse. Held annually in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, the Man vs Horse Marathon pits runners against horseback riders over a rigorous 22-mile route. The course takes competitors on a demanding endurance test through hills, forests, and streams.
  • Giant Pumpkin Kayaking: Remember Claire and Phil from Modern Family trying to break a record while kayaking in a Pumpkin? The unusual and visually striking sport of "giant pumpkin kayaking" entails hollowing out massive pumpkins and turning them into improvised kayaks. These enormous gourds—some among which may weigh hundreds of pounds—are carved and shaped by participants into buoyant water-skimming vessels. Participants put on costumes and make their way across rivers, trying to paddle their big kayaks as successfully as they can. Ingenuity, skill, and pure ridiculousness are all combined in this sport to create a spectacle that satisfies viewers and competitors alike.
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