Thursday, November 8, 2007

Who thinks of these things?

Pretty much since I was a kid I've been fascinated by sports events that are actually combinations of events, where an athlete has to be good at everything to win the medal. I think it was because the American Bruce Jenner won the Decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics, when I was five, and the event just stuck in my brain. After all, everyone was talking about it, and he was on the front of the Wheaties boxes, so it must have been a matter of earth-shaking importance, right? Thus the five-year-old mind works. I wonder what the Pillowfight Fairy will consider of earth-shaking importance....

I digress. Then there's the Triathlon, which tests sheer, iron endurance of the competitors. I still wonder how people can race for that long without killing themselves.

But then, I started to get exposed to combinations of events that seemed a little incongruous. Who decided to put those events together, and why? The first time I wondered this was when, as a child, I watched a Biathlon event on TV. The competitors combine Nordic skiing with marksmanship, of all things; they ski long distances, then drop to the ground, pull their rifles off their backs, shoot at several targets, then off they go again. As I said, this looked a little incongruous at first--until someone explained that the event started as training exercises in the Swedish and Norwegian armies. These military forces deploy soldiers trained to move about on skis. Because of the terrain and climate in Scandanavia, soldiers must be able to ski long distances and shoot accurately. Ok, that one makes sense.

But I'm apparently not the only one out there who finds the combination of different sports interesting--even humorous. The movie Baseketball involves a hybrid sport of Baseball and Basketball. And there are plenty of other examples--like the Monty Python sketches about "Olympic Hide-and-Seek" and "Upper Middle-Class Twit of the Year" competitions, and the Muppet Sports skit of cross-country billiards. And of course, there were all those beer commercials from several years back that wanted to illustrate the novelty of "less filling, tastes great" by mixing different television shows, giving us Full-Contact Golf (Golf + Football), Beauty Pageant Hockey, and Professional Culinary Wrestling.

And then I was introduced by a former co-worker to the concept of joggling, or juggling while jogging. It's supposed to build dexterity and cardiovascular fitness at the same time, but I can't help but imagine that its practicioners are prone to chest injuries that look vaguely like parking meters, mailboxes, streetlights, other jogglers....

But nothing prepared me for the one I read today, hat tip to the Volokh Conspiracy .
London - Andreas Dilschneider was still thinking about his opening moves on the chessboard when his opponent rushed up to him and punched him. Several times.
That's right, folks, I present for your consideration the surreal phenomenon of Chessboxing.

And while that's surreal enough, I loved the descriptions of other niche sports mentioned on the second page of the article, that go by names like blokarting, blackminton, tchoukball, urban golf, underwater hockey, and street luge. Um, you may want to wear a helmet on that last one. And body armor wouldn't hurt, except that it might....

Wow. I'm curious, are there any other hybrid sports you would like to see? Note, this doesn't mean you actually want to do them, just see them.


Update: ten seconds after I hit "Publish Post", my dear wife piped up with "Bungee Fishing?" So remember all that stuff I said about her being the practical one of the family? Nevermind....

4 comments:

Perry said...

Actually, when you get good enough at joggling you don't really have to look at the bean bags so crashing into things is not a problem. Here are a couple of video links if you want to see a joggler in action.

Joggling on TV

Joggling up a mountain

I don't know why I started joggling but I do it now because while I'll never be the fastest runner or the best juggler, there's a chance I could be the greatest joggler.

Timothy Power said...

Hello, Perry! Good to make your acquaintance.

Wow. I'd heard about joggling, but I'd never actually met a real live joggler before.

After watching the videos you linked to, I can actually see a potential advantage that jogglers have; it seems that maintaining the rhythm necessary to juggle would regulate the jogging pace quite nicely.

And I think there's something to your comment that "...while I'll never be the fastest runner of the best juggler, there's a chance I could be the greatest joggler." I suspect that the practicioners of most of the sports I listed think something similar: "I may never be the best boxer or best chess player, but...."

Thanks for dropping in on my humble blog!

Anonymous said...

Mom thought ballet horseshoes would be fun (with extra points for getting a ringer on pointe). She also liked the idea of crossword archery. My own favorite is polo vaulting: I suppose you could equip yourself for medieval jousting, and when you plant your lance in the box...

Dad

Timothy Power said...

Hey, Dad! Thanks for dropping by.

Tonya particularly liked the one about getting a ringer on pointe.

Actually, I've been thinking up a few more myself. For one thing, I've been thinking that just about any water sport--platform diving, water polo, underwater hockey, and even the 100m freestyle--could be greatly improved with the addition of a giant squid to the swimming pool. You'd get a little 20,000 Leagues action going there...

And it seems that these new hybrid sports themselves could be combined in new and interesting ways: "I may never be the best joggler or the best urban golfer or the best street luger, but I just might be the best urban luge juggler out there...."