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0000017a-15d9-d736-a57f-17ff8cd30001A blog featuring the work and work life of NHPR's interns and fellows.

Check Out These Five Really Weird Sports

Tetyanochka via Flickr Creative Commons

Our exploration of Aesthletics reminded us of some of our other favorite bizarre sports. From the safe, if not always tame, World Beard and Moustache Competition to the surprisingly dangerous Outhouse Races, strange sports are everywhere. These are not the weirdest sports, by far, but they top our list as most memorable and well organized.

Segway Polo: Since 2006, the International Segway Polo Associationhas been hosting annual competitions for the Woz Cup. The award is named after Steve Wozniak, the founder of the sport. The competition is tough between the 9 teams from 5 countries, Germany, Sweden, the US, Barbados, and Lebanon. The Silicon Valley Aftershocks placed into the final match from 2006-2009, but lost their position as the Barbados Flyin’ Fish moved up in the ranks. The Flyin’ Fish perhaps had a home team advantage, as the World Cup was held in Barbados for the 2010-2011 competitions before being moved to Washington D.C. for the 2013 Cup– Lebanon was the original location, but it was moved to the US after political unrest in neighboring Syria made hosting the Cup unwise.

Battle of the Nations: Though many reenactments of medieval-style fighting involve more theatrics than blunt force, there is an annual gathering of roughly 500 people from around the worldwho are interested in more accurate interpretations. The Battle of the Nations has been taking place annually since 2009, with locations including Poland and the south of France. This is not the jousting you see at Renaissance faires – men (no women competitors have entered so far, though a separate division is being considered) spend thousands of dollars on period accurate armor, which may be the only thing standing between them and a blunted sword to the head. Team USAhas been placing increasingly higher in the ranks, impressive since full contact, medieval combat is not as big as sport here as in countries like Russia, where members have to win dozens of competitions to even be considered for the national team.

Quidditch: The game created by J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series is traditionally played on flying broomsticks. Some alterations were needed when teams started forming in real life, and the muggle variation is described as being a full contact, co-ed mix of rugby, dodgeball, and handball. In 2005, Middlebury College hosted the first Quidditch World Cup, with ten intramural teams from the college participating. By the start of the 2012 season, the International Quidditch Associationhad 175 registered teams from 6 countries. Regional championships are now held to determine who qualified to go on to the World Cup and the event has outgrown its home at Middlebury. The 2013 World Cup was held at event grounds in Kissimmee, Florida where 80 teams spread over 2 divisions competed.

Outhouse Racing: Up in a valley in Vermont, the town of Bristol holds an Outhouse Race every 4th of July. It has been a tradition for 35 years and though most of the participants are in the 15-24 age range, anyone older than 13 is welcome to join in on the fun. The three member teams, consisting of a pusher, a puller, and a rider, design their own ‘outhouse,’ racer, though the frames are provided by the town to keep the competition fair. And it is stiff competition. The rules are regulated by an official head of the race, and have had to been changed to make the sport safer. The race now runs one block in a straight line after several instances of out of control outhouses and subsequent injuries to both onlookers and team members.  

World Beard and Moustache Competition: Perhaps the safest sport on this list, an international Beard and Moustache Competitionis hosted biannually in various locations. The history behind the event is controversial – both the Italians and Germans claim to have sown the seeds, but the clearest facts are these: since 1995 a competition has taken place, judging categories like “Natural Moustache,” “Sideburns,” “Fu Manchu,” and  “Full Beard Freestyle.” It grew out of the small German village Höfen/Enz, but the most recent competition was held in Las Vegas, the actual events taking place in an amphitheater with seating for 3000 – it was hosted as a national competition for Beard Team USA, but people were encouraged to participate regardless of nationality.

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