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Pain Don’t Hurt: 9 Most Badass (And Possibly Insane) Sports Of All-Time

by: Howard Cosmell On  Monday, November 1, 2010

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“Are you tough enough?” is a question that can be asked in a number of different contexts. It is asked when eating spicy foods, arm wrestling, and doing many other fairly innocuous activities. However, if someone asks if you’re tough enough to roll your body down a mountain or throw a woman over your shoulder, you might not only be inclined to step away, but also to call the police once you reach safety. Well, what could be classified as psychotically tough in one culture can be considered sport in another. Just cause it’s tough doesn’t mean it should be done, but don’t tell that to the participants of these 9 sports.

9. Quad Rugby

Take some of the most driven, cutthroat athletes in the US and abroad, take away their full capabilities in at least three limbs (that’s a requirement), put them in wheelchairs and give them a sport in which they can take out all their frustrations. The sport’s official name was originally “Murderball,” which should give you an idea of exactly what both the level of competition and mindset of the players are. The game consists of four 8-minute quarters, so what the games lack in duration, they more than make up for in intensity. Though serious injuries are uncommon, this sport thrives on contact and is generally considered, again due to the short periods of play, one of the most intense in the world.

8. Jai Alai

While jai alai is predominately played by the wealthy (often of South American descent), but just because it’s a rich sport, doesn’t mean it’s necessary more civilized or safe. Jai Alai consists of scoring points by hurling a small ball that’s about as hard as porcelain at a wall, then catching it and re-throwing it with a device that provides leverage and resembles an animal’s horn. How much leverage does this thing provide? Well, the ball can get moving up to speeds of 180 mph, which means you are essentially taking a ball harder than a baseball and having it rocketing towards and past you at speeds that are twice what most elite MLB pitchers are capable of. They wear helmets and pads, but unless I can go out there wrapped in six feet of bubble wrap, I’ll be staying on the sidelines, thanks.

7. Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling

Any “sport” that involves a crowd of people racing and tumbling down a hill to catch a wheel of cheese that is cruising along at 70 MPH certainly classifies as insane, so this entry didn’t get met with too much opposition. On this sleepy British Isle, the event is held annually because, well, it’s always been held annually. This is one of those events that seems to have taken place solely due to tradition, as there doesn’t seem to be a logical reason for holding it. The winner is the first person to cross the finish line at the bottom of the hill, but technically they are supposed to catch the cheese. Since the cheese is moving at 70 MPH, this doesn’t, uh, happen, so one should probably just appreciate this sport for what it is. Falling down a hill chasing a wheel of cheese.

6. Wife Carrying

While I happen to think this sport makes a fair amount of sense (the ability to carry one’s wife is pretty practical should she drink too much, get injured, or you want to kidnap her.), many others would disagree, so it gets an appearance on the list. The course is not unlike a steeplechase course, measuring 250 meters with a watertrap and two jumps. Though the sport is Finnish and originally started off as a joke, Dennis Rodman competed in the event in 2005, solidifying the fact that both he and the sport are definitely a joke.

5. Buzkashi

You may remember this sport from Rambo III. This game can best be described as the poor man’s polo, in that there are horses, but instead of stick and a ball, there are hands and a goat corpse. The games can go on for days, which in and of itself is pretty insane. The riders often where protective clothing to stave off the odd kick or whip. I’m guessing the whips are meant to be for the horses, but I’m not going to presume anything about what’s going on in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan and central Asia.

4. Chessboxing

It’s exactly what it sounds like. Once again, when those crazy Finns aren’t carrying their wives over their shoulders, apparently they can be found enjoying a hybrid of the thinking man’s game with the sweet science. Thought to be a simple way of combining brains and brawn into one pursuit, the game consists of 11 4-minute rounds with the winner either pulling off a checkmate or knocking his opponent out. Sometimes I like to play this game with my friends, but I just call it “chess,” so they get pretty surprised when I cold-cock them 45 minutes into the board game.

3. Sepak Takraw

This sport could be dangerous, considering how much time the players spend doing upside down bicycle kicks, but the “insanity” of this sport lies more in its perceived difficulty, especially in a country such as ours where soccer is far from the national pastime. This game is essentially volleyball with soccer rules. No hands, ever. Players get their touches in with their feet and are actually capable of spiking the ball by setting the ball to another player, then having the recipient “spike” the ball while upside down with their feet. The game is played and southeast Asia, and, frankly, they can keep it, because I think that the learning curve on this game is steep enough that Stateside, the average game would last about four seconds.

2. Aikolaritza

Say it with me: Alls-cola-reetsa. If you’re still having trouble with the pronunciation, try this way: wood-choppin’. Though lumberjack sports exist in many countries, in few are they as popular as in the Baque region of Spain. This sport’s craziness is two-fold. One, you’re chopping a log for sport. Two, you’re doing so with an axe that’s located about two inches from your feet and you’re standing on the log as you chop it. If anyone has a DVD of “Aikolaritza Bloopers”, please send it to me care of “Total Pro Sports”. I’ve never seen a guy chop his own foot off with an axe, seeing that is on my bucket list.

1. Eton Wall Game

College kids do some crazy shit, but in the realm of sports, most American collegiates tend to adopt conventional activities like basketball or tennis. However, at Eton University in England, they have been playing a game for 300 years that is anything but conventional. Known as the Eton Wall Game. (Fun name, no?), it’s essentially soccer, but played along a wall against which vertical dogpiles occur that result in the ball being slowly moved up the field inches at a time while any players stuck against the wall get slowly pushed against it like cheese on a grater. If the ball gets free, it’s struck down field where there’s a mad scramble to lock it up and start the dogpile over again.




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