Low-tech competitions that are more thrilling than any big-money, high-stakes sport.
The four major sports leagues in the United States generate billions of dollars in revenue each year. Buying a franchise will set you a back a few hundred million, if not more than a billion (just ask former Microsoft CEO turned Clippers’ owner, Steve Ballmer).
But these big-money, high-stakes sports simply can’t compete against deeper (carnal, rudimentary and, dare we say, cheaper) attention grabbing games such as Wife Carrying, Toe Wrestling or Worm Charming.
One look at any of these 10 random sports from around the world will have you hankering for more. And it’s satisfying to know that you can start your own mountain unicycle circuit with less than $100.
If you’re not a fan of feet, then Toe Wrestling is not the sport for you.
It originated in England by some, uhh, less than sober founders who were desperate to bring any sort of a championship to the United Kingdom. They reasoned that if they invented a sport that no one had ever played before then they could surely be successful at it.
Toe Wrestling requires two players. They must face each other, take off the shoes and socks of their opponent (as is common courtesy), interlock their toes and place the bottoms of their feet together.
Then, much like arm wrestling, the contestants try to pull their opponent’s foot to the side and pin it.
This video to see Nasty Nash, one of the most celebrated Toe Wrestling “athletes.”
The sport of Bossaball is a very unique combination of volleyball, soccer, gymnastics and a bouncy castle at a 7-year-old’s birthday party.
Essentially, the Bossaball court has a volleyball-like net with a court surface made up of trampolines and inflatables.
Similar to volleyball, Bossaball teams have four or five players. Each team is allowed six collective touches — with any body part — to hit the ball over the net.
A typical rally will produce some exciting high flying acts when the team passes the ball around in an attempt to set up the center player who has been gathering height bouncing on the center trampoline. This center player will then spike or kick the ball onto the opponent’s side of the court in order to win a point.
It’s simple to understand, but Mountain Unicycling (muni) isn’t so simple to do. In fact, it can be exhausting.
Essentially it’s mountain biking minus one wheel.
It requires acute balance and strength, as unicycles do not typically have gear systems like most mountain bikes.
Successfully making it downhill is almost impossible to explain with science.
As muni has recently grown in popularity, more advanced unicycles are being created. Two-gear hubs, large mountain-bike-like tires and lever-operated brakes have helped more riders to take to the trails on one wheel.
This is as ridiculous as it sounds, but do not be fooled. This is an extremely competitive sport with potentially generous spoils for the winner.
The sport of Wife Carrying is performed by a man carrying woman (who doesn’t technically have to be his wife) through an obstacle course. In certain parts of the world, like Sonkajärvi, Finland, the victorious team wins the weight of the wife in beer.
The International Wife Carrying Competition Rules Committee (yes, there’s an official rules committee) has made the official track 253.5 meters and all wives must weigh at least 49kgs.
The World Championships award two prizes: One for the fastest times through the obstacle course (for competitive couples), and one for the best costumes (for prize-seekers who may not be the Lebron James of Wife Carrying).
Now here’s a way to make doing the laundry a little more fun.
Originating in Leicester, England, Extreme Ironing (EI) attempts to be a combination of performance art and a sometimes daring extreme sport.
The absolute best description of the sport comes from the Extreme Ironing Bureau: “The latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.”
To take part in EI, simply grab a wrinkled shirt, your trusty iron, an ironing board and set out to the nearest mountain top, cliffside, underbelly of a frozen lake or even take your ironing materials with you on a sky dive.
These are just some of the extreme places that EI participants have pressed their finest shirts and the sport is always finding new insane ways to battle wrinkles.
An undeniable bizarre sport, Worm Charming originated from fisherman luring worms out of the ground to become bait.
The competitive form of this activity requires charmers to perform various methods of enticing worms to come out of the ground. Such methods vary from grunting, vibrating the ground or sprinkling water or beer on the turf.
During Worm Charming competitions, contestants have three square yards of turf to use to attract worms to the surface.
In competitions charmed worms that surface are collected, counted and returned to the earth when the competition is over.
The world record holding Worm Charming is a 10-year-old girl who brought 567 worms to the surface during the 2009 World Worm Charming Championship.
Think twice the next time you go to throw away leftover Halloween pumpkins and remember that you can give them a second life by hurling them in a Punkin Chunkin contest!
Pumpkin Chucking, or “Punkin Chunkin” as it is colloquially called, is a sport where the goal is to hurl or fling a pumpkin as far as possible via mechanical contraptions.
Those with an engineering mind and some creativity can excel by creating impressive catapults, slingshots, cannons, trebuchets or centrifugals to hurl the orange squashes thousands of feet.
During the World Championships of Punkin Chunkin it is common to see pumpkins travel almost a mile in the air.
This video shows engineering prowess required to play this unique sport.
If you haven’t noticed, Spike Ball is currently sweeping the nation’s college scene.
It is played with two teams of two players who stand around a net that is roughly the size of a mini trampoline.
Teammates pass to one another like volleyball and have three total hits per turn to set up a spike into the net.
Points are won by spiking the ball onto the net in a fashion that is unreturnable by the opponent.
According to official rules, the game starts with Rock, Paper, Scissors, to determine who serves first. It is also used to decide dilemmas between teams, like will the game be played by teams wearing shoes or not.
A combination of four square and handball, this sport brings back a lot of childhood recess memories and is rapidly growing throughout the United States.
Unicycle Football requires just as much skill as Unicycle Mountain biking, maybe even more.
Uni Football is played very similarly to regular American football but does take into account the fact that players are on half-bikes.
To tackle, or “flackle,” players can pull flags, tackle or push opponents off their unicycle.
Watching 22 unicycle riding players go at it on a full football field may seem a little slow, however, so Unicycle Football played with units, rather than yards. These units vary depending on the playing field but are typically shorter than a yard so games are pretty action packed.
It should come as no surprise that a spin-off of America’s favorite sport originated in the football-crazed state of Texas in 2008.
Spike Ball photo by Robert Austin from Long Beach Post / Bossaball from Bossaball Worldwide / all others courtesy of Flickr/Creative Commons.