Here at The Sports Fan Journal, we like to keep our readers on their toes and up to date with everything sports. Although it's important to recognize Ohio State's win over Oregon, which we have, we would like to bring you something different on this chilly Tuesday in January and introduce to you 10 bizarre sports you've probably never heard of. These obscure sports require a different kind of skill, mindset and doggedness as they compete in games that don't receive the same attention as the sports we hear of most often. Competing with unconventional passion, these athletes open our eyes to sports we maybe wouldn't really consider sports. But the fact they are making an unusual, innovative sport competitive draws us in because of its entertainment and our curiosity for the unexplored.
This team sport, designed specifically for blind athletes, is 3 vs. 3 and each individual blindfolded. Using a ball with a bell inside, each team tries to roll the ball into the opposing team's goal, using the goal posts behind to help gauge the boundaries of the court. The tactical defense is to fall to the side when you hear which direction the ball is going to prevent it from going in the goal. Make sure your other senses are honed in before you attempt this one, or you'll be throwing the ball in the wrong direction or face-planting consistently.
2. Sepak Takraw
Also known as kick-volleyball, this sport is extremely popular in Southeast Asia. The athletes play with a rattan ball, a small, wicker orb, and use any part of their body except for their hands and arms to volley the ball over the net in three touches or less. The concept of the game is easy enough, but trying to keep a ball the size of a small cantaloupe controlled can be troublesome. If you tended to spend your time in a hacky sack circle at lunch during high school, this is probably the game for you.
Another volleyball-like game is bossaball — except it's played on a giant inflatable with a trampoline at the front of the net on each side of the court. The team receiving the ball must use any part of their body to keep the ball alive and over the net in five touches. The attacker, the one gaining height on the centered trampoline, is the fifth to touch the ball, attempting to destroy the ball by slamming it on the opponents side. This game is a blast for those who enjoy bounce houses and are not afraid of getting a ball power-housed to the face.
Jai-alai is known as the fastest sport in the world because of the speed that the ball travels when being released from the xistera, a woven basket with a curve for delivery. Each of the eight individuals, either paired in teams or on their own, take turns hurling the ball toward the front wall and recollect it in the xistera after it bounces between lines on the floor. The ball must then be caught by the opponent and returned to the wall in one fluid motion. Points are scored when the ball isn't served directly at the wall; the ball is dropped, juggled or out of bounds; or a player interferes with the play. If you like fluidly throwing out your arm, try picking up jai-alai.
To play this game, there are seven players on each team who are trying to throw the ball against a small pitch-back-like goal located on each side of the court. When the defending team, who is trying to catch the rebound off the pitch-back, lets the ball touch the ground, the offensive team gets a point. It they catch the ball, it is their turn for attack. To play this game, you need quick feet and tough skin. You will be falling frequently.
The sport of Swiss farmers is quite spectacular when you watch the athletes launch the nusse, a small puck, as far as they can. Spinning a whip-like hitting tool in a circle to gain momentum, the player sends the small disk through the air where the opposing team is standing with catch-boards, which are basically large paddles on long sticks. The defending team tries to stop the puck from going any further. The team with the lowest number of failed interceptions from the opposing team wins. Approach with caution; the whip can be dangerous.
A combination of ping pong, tennis and badminton, pickleball is a reflex-testing sport. The athletes play with giant ping-pong paddles and a whiffle ball, trying to rally the ball back and forth over the net on a court with the dimensions equal to a badminton court. A team earns a point when the other fails to return the ball. If you like a fast-paced game, but don't like moving distances, at least make the effort to pick up one of the paddles and try pickleball.
8. Chess Boxing
Need a mix of strategy and pain? Then chess boxing is your game. There are six rounds of chess and five rounds of boxing, each lasting three minutes and alternating back and forth. An individual wins when he knocks out or checkmates his opponent, all within the allotted time. This game can get especially tricky when you're trying to outsmart the other strategically on the chess board, but he is punching your brains out in the ring. You've got to be tough, and you've got to really know how to play chess well.
9. Underwater Hockey
Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. Get your snorkeling gear on, your pusher in hand, and prepare to hold your breath for a very long time. Underwater hockey, also known as octopush, consists of two teams trying to maneuver a puck across the bottom of a swimming pool into the opponents goal. It's a creative twist on a popular game and makes the participants look like a school of fish. Bored of swimming laps? This might be the action you need.
10. Cheese Rolling
This list would be incomplete without cheese rolling on it. It's a game for those with grit, guts and no problem walking away with an achey, damaged body. Each competitor lines up at the top of an extremely steep hill. Once the seven-pound wheel o' cheese begins to rapidly roll down the hill, the courageous individuals attempt to beat the cheese to the finish line. You win the cheese if you're the first down the hill. To participate would be absurd, but watching others is slightly amusing. Do not attempt if you have anything important the next day. It's likely you won't be getting out of bed the following morning.
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