Human beings are playful creatures with a positive genius for coming up with unique ways to amuse themselves. Sports are ways to stay fit and compete with one another in a healthy way and, most of all, to have fun. Humans are also social creatures, meaning that some games get played all around the world. Some really catch on and become popular. Others, however, are so quirky or specific to a certain place that they remain largely regional. If you get the chance to travel to many places around the world, you may get a chance to see some of these sports played in person. Maybe you can even try your hand at them yourself.
1. Jai Alai
As a kid in the United States, you probably grabbed your Rawlings baseball glove on a beautiful summer day and headed over to the neighborhood sandlot for a game of baseball with your friends. However, if you had grown up in Spain or Central America, you would grab your cesta, which is kind of like an elongated ice cream scoop, and your pelota, which is a ball made of hard rubber, and join your friends to use the cesta to pelt the pelota at the wall in a spirited game of jai alai. Jai alai is popular with amateurs and professionals alike in former Spanish colonies. You don't even have to travel outside the United States to see it, as there are jai alai leagues in Florida and some other states. The basic concept behind jai alai, i.e., smacking a ball around with a wooden implement of some sort, is familiar to many. This may actually be the least unusual sport on the list.
2. Cheese Rolling
Cheese rolling is a sport that originated in England near the city of Gloucester. It involves rolling a wheel of cheese down a hill and then running after it. Hundreds of people chase after the cheese as it rolls down the hill, and the one who crosses the finish line first gets to take it home. Originally, only locals could participate in cheese rolling, but now everyone is welcome to participate, and competitors come from all over the world. Cheese rolling is not without risks, however. Not only is running down a steep hill at top speeds likely to cause you to lose your balance, but you could also become injured by getting hit by the rolling cheese, which has been known to reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour.
The closest many people ever get to riding horses is trotting around on stick horses as kids. In 2017, a group in Finland created hobbyhorsing, which is a series of equestrian-style events, complete with obstacles and jumps, performed by primarily young girls on stick horses. People who participate in hobby horsing take it very seriously. Not just any toy that you pick up at the store will do. Like real horses used in equestrian sports, the hobby horses have names, specialties, breeds, and temperaments, though these probably aren't apparent to the casual observer and have to be explained by the riders.
Octopush is an aquatic form of hockey played by swimmers in snorkel gear. The puck is much heavier so that it stays on the bottom of the pool instead of floating to the surface. A regular hockey puck weighs about six ounces, while an octopush puck weighs upwards of three pounds. Octopush dates back to 1954. It was first developed in England, where it remains very popular. Though it may seem whimsical to outsiders, it actually serves a serious purpose in giving divers an opportunity to keep training during the winter.
5. Chess Boxing
Many sports are considered a test of mental as well as physical prowess, but chess boxing takes this to its logical extreme. It's more or less exactly what it sounds like, with bouts of physical sparring alternating with rounds of chess in the middle of the ring. Either a knockout or a checkmate may result in a winner.
Sports like these may sound strange or silly, but it's really just a matter of perspective and what you are used to.
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