Sport is one of the best ways to pull a group of complete strangers together. Whether you are starting up a local community rugby team or simply want to play five-a-side football with work colleagues on a Monday night, sport is an excellent way to meet new people and have lots of fun.
However, there is more to sport than just football. In a recent article, I asserted that having a Plan B isn’t always the best option – but that doesn’t rule out having alternatives and if you fancy a change of sport, carry on reading. Some of the more unpopular sports are just as enjoyable, if not more so. I looked at four of the craziest sports around and came up with these reasons you guys should get involved.
A sport that evolved after the popularity of the Harry Potter books, quidditch may have been played by wizards and witches for almost a thousand years, but it’s a relatively modern game in the muggle world. Already, though, it is being played across the globe, with a number of international events and competitions. Seemingly, it would be fair to say that quidditch – first played in England in 2005 – is one of the most exciting and entertaining new sports around.
This is one of the only sports that allows men and women to compete on the same team. In fact, the laws of the game specify that teams are allowed a maximum of four players of the same gender on the pitch at any given time. I wish I’d known about this when writing about things to do in Edinburgh, as the sport is very popular up in Scotland.
The shape of the pitch is essentially the same as it is in the Harry Potter movies and that helps bring the magic to the sport. The main difference is that the golden snitch is a tennis ball attached to a player’s shorts and the two seekers compete to catch the snitch before the other. Keep an eye out for quidditch coming to a place near you in the coming years!
First played in Cambridgeshire over 200 years ago, Bandy is a team sport played on ice. Its main objective is to score more goals than your opponent. The sport is considered a form of hockey but is played in halves of 45 minutes like football, rather than three periods of 20 minutes as in ice hockey.
There are 11 players from each team on the bandy rink at any time and the rink is the same size as a conventional football pitch. Players use bowed sticks and a small ball rather than traditional ice hockey sticks and a puck – it really is a very exciting sport to watch.
Bandy has a World Championship tournament and an annual World Cup, which is the biggest bandy tournament for club teams and is held in Sweden. The Elitserien is one of its most popular competitions, resulting in bandy odds being listed on Betway’s betting site, alongside the usual odds for football, basketball and cricket. It isn’t just for men either, the women’s bandy game is growing at a rate of knots.
A hybrid event that combines two traditional sports: chess and boxing. In a nutshell, the competing players fight in alternate rounds of chess and boxing. It is now popular in Germany, the United Kingdom, India and Russia. It is one of the strangest sports around but is an absolute must-watch when it’s on television or in your local area.
With 11 rounds – six for chess and five for boxing – a victory in either discipline wins and ends the contest. Chess and boxing rounds alternate, with the first and last rounds being chess rounds. Every round lasts a total of three minutes, as per traditional boxing rules. Breaking Muscle discusses chess boxing becoming an Olympic Game, a status the World Chess Boxing Organisation aims to bring to the sport – that would certainly be interesting!
There are a few methods of victory, either by knockout or technical knockout, checkmate, defeat due to exceeding time for chess play, disqualification in either sport and resignation in either sport. In the case that neither chessboxer wins in regulation and the chess game ends in a draw, the fighter ahead on boxing points wins the bout.
Worm charming is usually performed to collect bait for fishing purposes but it does take the form of a competitive sport in certain areas of the world – East Texas, for example. It is quite a rare skill but it may survive and flourish for generations to come – and would not look out of place for during a quiet break in the Cotswolds!
Perhaps the strangest of the four sports covered, professional worm charming started in a Cheshire school many decades ago. The first World Worm Charming Championships were held in 1980 and it has been an ever-present annual event since. The current world record for total worms raised is 567 – set by a 10-year-old back in 2009.
The rules for worm charming are strange too. The regulations state that a player’s plot should be no greater than three metres by three metres. In addition, competitors must place all worms back in the ground after that particular round.
So if you’re bored of the same old sports, don’t just sit on the sidelines: try your hand at some of these exciting activities instead!