If there is one thing I know for certain about my gender, it’s that we men love to gamble. There is no situation, no circumstance that is too sacred to be spiced up with a couple of bets, a little high-stakes action. I mean, think about it. What’s the first thing the Roman soldiers did after crucifying Jesus? Why, cast lots for his clothes of course. Never mind that they’d just murdered a presumed deity, what the Romans really wanted was a gambling fix. It makes perfect sense... if you’re a guy. Everything in life has the potential for competition, and everything competitive can only be improved by adding betting.
Wife-carrying is a sport in which male competitors race while carrying a female teammate. To make it even more challenging, the race track includes obstacles including pools of water, fences, and rough terrain. The sport originated in Sonkajärvi, Finland as a joke about the local courting tradition of going to a village, picking up a woman, and carrying her off. The use of obstacles supposedly originated because of Rosvo-Ronkainen, a famous Finnish brigand of the 1800s who only accepted troops who successfully completed a challenge course, thereby proving themselves. His men were as famous for absconding with women as they were for stealing food and ale.
As if last week’s featured sport, noodling, wasn’t dangerous enough, this week we introduce another animal to the world of sports, the ferret. In my opinion, ferrets have always been fear-evoking creatures. Their long bodies, beady eyes, sharp teeth and rodent-esque tendencies are all reasons to never own a ferret. Owning a ferret seems bad enough, but in the sport of ferret legging, the male-only contestants are housing these vermin in their pants.
Regimented exercise is about as much fun as stirring a pot of soup on low heat for four hours. I hate it. As far as I know, most people feel about the same way, unless they are truly dedicated. However, there are solutions.
Some would argue that there is no universal standard for toughness: everybody has their own personal strengths and weaknesses. The Tough Guy Competition, however, might be as close to that standard as possible. Contestants face fire, ice cold water, heights, underground tunnels, barbed wire, cross country running, mud crawling, rope climbing, and electric shocks. In fact, competitors need to sign a “death warrant” before they can even start the race.
The snowball fight is a timeless winter tradition. Every year, kids across the snow-receiving countries of the world gather to build forts, mould snowballs, and pelt each other with icy snow. The appeal of this parent-approved violence is so great that in some snowless countries, kids have resorted to using elephant dung to achieve similar satisfaction. Apparently kids aren’t the only ones who harbour a secret desire to imagine themselves lords of a battle fort, hell-bent on the destruction of the forces of evil that threaten their realm – adults also feel the need to pummel each other with icy balls, although they get more organized and high-tech about it. Enter Yukigassen, from the Japanese yuki, meaning snow, and kassen, meaning battle.
Real polar bears don't mind the cold. Perhaps that’s what the human fans of yearly polar bear swims are trying to attain with the annual tradition of hurling themselves into freezing water. In Canada, the polar bear swim (also known as polar bear plunge or dip) is celebrated on New Years Day. At the Vancouver polar bear swim, most participants register, although they don't have to. Registering, which includes a donation of food to the Food Bank, gets you a small amount of swag and the fuzzy feeling that your contribution is going to people in need. But is this fuzzy feeling enough to keep you warm in the wintry water? In short, no: most polar bear swim participants leave the beach shortly after the dip for the warmth of their showers or hot tubs.
Immature (and virginal) axe-slinging tweens have been comparing guitar playing to the act of sex with a nudge and a grin since the instrument was invented, so it seemed only a matter of time before air guitar was taken to the next level as well. And suddenly, lo and behold, along came the sport that answered everyone’s prayers: air sex.
I’ve only come across one sport in all my years of athletics which creates adequate flexibility for the breadth and flux of true competition, and it’s one I’ve never been brave enough to try. In fact, I’m only sure of a single rule, one golden rule in contrast to the manuals which accompany most other sports. And that rule is simple: you may not play the game the same way twice. Yup folks, I’m talking about Calvinball.
For those of you who really enjoy a neatly pressed shirt and for those of you who really enjoy extreme outdoor activities, but have never been able to combine them, your time has finally come! For more than a decade the semi-professional sport of extreme ironing has been growing in popularity. According to the website www.extremeironing.com, “It all started in the city of Leicester in the UK, in the summer of 1997. When mild-mannered Steam returned home after a long day in the knitwear factory, the last thing he wanted to do was start on a pile of ironing. The sun was shining and Phil preferred the idea of an evening out pursuing his (somewhat unsuccessful) hobby of rock climbing. Then it occurred to him to combine these activities into an extreme sport - the result: extreme ironing.”