10 Things: Weird sports

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  1. Headis is a combination of tennis and soccer. It is played with two players, a ping-pong table, and a seven-inch rubber ball. The rules are identical to those of table tennis with one catch: the players can only serve, volley and hit the ball with their heads. The sport was invented in 2009 at the University of Saarbruecken and is most popular in Germany.
  2. Chess Boxing is a head-to-head bout between two contestants, consisting of 11 alternating rounds of chess and boxing. Each round of boxing or chess lasts three minutes and players can win either by knocking out or checkmating their opponent. The World Chess Boxing Organization governs the sport, and a champion in each of three weight classes is crowned at the World Championships each year.
  3. The Wife Carrying Festival is held each year in Sonkajärvi, Finland. Men must carry a female teammate through an obstacle course with fences, sand, water, and other obstacles. The fastest time wins, and first prize is the wife’s weight in beer.
  4. Extreme Ironing transports the age-old homemaking craft to exhilirating places. According to the Extreme Ironing Bureau, extreme ironing is “the latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.” Extreme Ironers have ironed underwater, in the middle of the M1 Motorway, while parachuting, and in various other exotic and life-threatening locales.
  5. Cheese Rolling is an annual event held on Cooper’s Hill near Gloucester, England. A nine-pound round of double Gloucester cheese is rolled down the hill, and competitors race down the hill after it. The first person over the finish line at the bottom of the hill wins the cheese. Due to the steepness of the hill and its uneven terrain, most contestants simply end up tumbling head over heels 200 yards down the hill, to the intense enjoyment of the assembled spectators.
  6. The Redneck Games have been held annually since 1996 in Georgia, and feature events such as the mud pit belly flop, the seed spitting contest, the cigarette flip, the armpit serenade, and redneck horseshoes–horseshoes using a toilet seat instead of a horseshoe.
  7. Taking place in Finland, the land of the indestructible cellphone, the World Mobile Phone Throwing Championships have been testing the limits of the human arm since 2000. Contestants are judged on aesthetics, choreography, and distance. The sport’s roots can be traced back to a phone recycling initiative organized by Nokia.
  8. Uppies and Downies is game that has been played each Easter since medieval times by the residents of Workington in Northern England. Uppies and Downies refer to residents from two different sides of town, with significant socioeconomic and class differences. The only defined rule of the game is to ‘hail the ball’ (throw it up in the air three times) at the opposing team’s goal, on opposite ends of town. Each team is composed of roughly 1,000 Workingtonians and the match usually degenerates to a rather violent scrum until one team experiences a lucky breakthrough.
  9. Shin Kicking is an event at the annual Cotswold Olimpick Games held in Western England since 1612. Contestants pad their shins with as much straw as possible, hold on to each other’s collars and kick their opponent as hard as they can in the shins. Each time the opponent falls to the ground a point is earned.
  10. Toe Wrestling is akin to arm wrestling but instead competitors interlock their big toes across a ‘Toedium’ and try to force their opponent’s foot off. Fans submitted toe wrestling to the International Olympic Committee for inclusion as an Olympic sport in 1997, but their application was, unfortunately, rejected.