9 Obscure Sports Museums
In the past seven weeks, the sporting press has spilled a lot of ink (both real ink and, in the case of sports websites like this one, virtual ink) covering the 2011 inductions to both the baseball and football halls of fame. It makes sense, of course, since these are some of the most popular and successful professional sports leagues in the world. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of monuments are dedicated to the world’s lesser known sports. After all, the athletes who have played and succeeded at them worked just as hard. So in honor of these athletes, here is a list of 9 more obscure sports museums and halls of fame.
9. International Swimming Hall of Fame
Swimming is unique among professional sports. Just about everyone on the planet would love to have a swimming pool in their backyard, but very few people ever swim competitively. Hell, most people don’t even pay any attention to the sport outside watching Michael Phelps in the Olympics every four years. So, on the one hand, it’s good that there is a swimming HOF in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to raise the public’s awareness. On the other hand, I wonder if anyone who is not a serious swimmer (or family member of a serious swimming) has ever stepped foot in the place.
8. Volleyball Hall of Fame
Volleyball is by no means an obscure sport; however, you don’t exactly read about it on the sports page on a daily basis. I wouldn’t mind so much if you did, though. If you have never seen a competitive volleyball game in person—particularly the traditional indoor variety—I highly recommend it. It’s fast, action-packed, and played by some seriously gifted athletes who can jump approximately 15 feet in the air. As for the Volleyball Hall of Fame, it is located in Holyoke, Massachusetts, where the sport (who knew?) was born in 1895.
7. International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame
The International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame was located in St. Louis, Missouri, until November 2008. Fans of The Simpsons will recall that Homer took Marge and the kids on a vacation to St. Louis just so he could get a picture of himself with the car that’s shaped like a bowling pin (which he then kept on the dresser next to his bed). If Homer ever wanted to visit the museum again, he’d have to drive all the way down to Arlington, Texas, where the museum relocated in 2010. It must have been a difficult move; I doubt that bowling pin car has a lot of trunk space.
6. Marylebone Cricket Club Cricket Museum
While cricket is one of the most popular sports in the world (based on the number of people who play and follow it), it remains relatively obscure outside of the UK and south Asia. Personally, though I don’t follow cricket and know very little about it, for some reason I do find the sport intriguing. So I think if I ever visit London, I’m definitely going to try to take in a match at the famous Lord’s Cricket Ground and then stop by the MCC Cricket Museum.
5. National Badminton Museum (of England)
I was about 20-years-old before I learned badminton was a competitive olympic sport and not just a casual game people play at family picnics. And I’m not trying to knock the game, here; it’s just that those crappy badminton sets you can find in the “picnic aisle” at Wal-Mart during the summer were my only exposure to the game growing up. Now, of course, I realize that badminton has a long, noble history, and that people all over the world (but especially Asia) play badminton competitively. If you are one of these people and you ever find yourself passing through the little town of Milton Keynes outside London, you should check out the National Badminton Museum and learn more about the history of the sport.
4. International Table Tennis Federation Museum
In North America we call table tennis “ping-pong” and, for most part, it is another sport we only play recreationally (usually in basement rec-rooms). In other parts of the world, however, table tennis is a big deal. And if you’ve ever seen a competitive table tennis match, then you know that table tennis players really are athletes. So it’s only fair that they have their own museum. Only problem is, it’s located in the somewhat out-of-the-way town of Lausanne, Switzerland—about a 50 minutes drive from Geneva.
3. Museum of American Fencing
Does America need a museum dedicated to its glorious fencing history? Apparently so. Or anyway, that’s what the guy who runs the place believes. And actually, although I at first assumed this was going to be some kind of crack pot joint run out of some dude’s basement, the MAF looks like it has a lot of cool stuff. So I have to give them credit.
2. Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum
If I ever found myself passing through Amsterdam, New York, I would most definitely stop by the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum (PWHF) to check it out. However, I have just a little advice for whoever produces the promotional videos for the PWHF. If you have to say, “this is a real, legitimate hall of fame,” people will for sure assume that it’s not a real, legitimate hall of fame. So when somebody says that to the camera, cut that part out, okay?
1. American Curling History Museum
Why is the American Curling History Museum #1 on this list? Well, there two reasons, really. First, curling is perhaps the most obscure sport on this list. It is an interesting sport, too. It’s not interesting to watch, mind you (in fact, it’s pretty boring), but the fact that this sport exists and people play it and you can win a gold medal in the Olympics for it? That’s pretty interesting. The other reason this museum comes in at #1 is that it is in Chicago. I figure, if you’re going to go check out an obscure sports museum, it should at least be in an awesome city, right?