Archive for the ‘New Sports’ Category

Street Luge

Street luge

It may look astronautical but luging is basically just going down a hill while lying on a skateboard. As with most great skateboarding innovations, street luge was invented in sunny South California in the early 1970’s.

Starting off as a new form of “downhill skateboarding”, the turning point for the sport was the Signal Hill meet in 1971. The object of the competition was simple: get down the hill as fast as you can. Competitors soon realised that you could cut a lot of air resistance by lying on your board. Though it did make steering quite a bit more difficult. And in those days, safety wasn’t even a consideration. People were going down these slopes in just singlets and flip-flops. Needless to say, there were broken bones and grazes a-plenty.

Equipment

From then, skaters have been customising boards and racing equipment to be safer and more aerodynamic. Gone are the days of long hair and baggy jeans, street lugers nowadays look more like formula one racers than skaters. A standard luging kit includes helmets, gloves, leathers and sometimes even light-weight body armour.

Street luge robocopFuture of street luge: part Iron Man, part skateboard

Some have even gone so far as integrating their board with their suit. This is Jean-Yves Blondeau, aka Rollerman, invented, daredevil and all-round badass. You may have seen some of his stunt clips (there’s one below for your perusal). His suit, also known as Buggy Rollin’, consists of 31 wheels attached to what looks like power armour from Fallout 3. It can reach speeds of up to 95km/h and costs around $4000 on the internet.

Street Luge in Australia

There are a couple functioning street luge organisations in Australia, including Australian Street Luge (and its multiple chapters in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane, as well as Ladies of Luge, their female team). Check them out if you’re interested in picking up the sport.

Chess Boxing

King punch: Chess boxing is becoming a worldwide sport.

King punch: Chess boxing is becoming a worldwide sport.

The ultimate combination of brains and brawn, chess boxing is exactly what it sounds like: a game half chess, half boxing. Each round of chess lasts four minutes to every three minutes of boxing, cycling five times, with a total of eleven rounds all up. There’s a one-minute break between each round for the competitors to cool-down or psych-up.

Chris Levy is a chess boxing competitor from London. In an interview with Al Jazeera, he says the hardest part of the game is transitioning from one to the other.

“You’ve been in the ring trying to knock out your opponent, your adrenaline is going, your heart is pumping at 170 beats a minute, and then you have to sit down and really concentrate on a game of chess,” Levy says.

With such an absurd hybrid sport, one can’t help but wonder who came up with this crack-pot idea and why.

Origins of Chess Boxing

chess boxing comic

Comic start

Chess boxing was first conceived by French comic book writer and artist, Enki Bilal. The oddball sport first appeared in his 1992 sci-fi comic, Froid Équateur, which, besides featuring chess boxing, also includes cryogenic sleep, a nuclear apocalypse and flying pyramids. Suddenly the chess boxing part doesn’t sound so weird.

Becoming a real sport

From here, Dutch artist Iepe Rubingh decided to bring this fictional into the real world. Originally planned as a piece of performance art, it became so popular he decided to organise an international competition.The First European Chess Boxing Championship took place in Berlin in 2005 and from there, the rest is history.

Bossaball

Bossaball flips

Flipping out over Bossaball

Imagine the coolest soccer kick or gymnastics flip you’ve ever seen. Now put that on a giant inflatable volleyball court. That’s Bossaball.

It fuses the most epic components of other sports into a single super-sport. It’s almost too awesome to exist. But it does. And it’s kind of cool.

Bossaball: A History

Bossaball was invented in 2004 by Belgian sports enthusiast/ DJ Filip Eyckmans. On a trip to Brazil, Eyckmans came across the dance martial art of capoeira. This, coupled with the musical nature of Brazilian beach soccer and volleyball, inspired him to create a new sport that could take these elements to the extreme.

Bossaball was born. From these humble beginnings, Bossaball has become an international sport of some repute, with leagues in Europe, North and South America and even the Middle East. Unfortunately, there’s still no Australian league. But it could be coming soon.

How to Play

  •  Played on a special inflatable court, which resembles a volleyball court but with a giant trampoline in the middle
  • Five players on each team
  • One ball, called the Bossaball
  • Each player is allowed to touch the ball once with their hands and twice with other body parts, with a total of six touches by the team before it goes over the net
  • If the Bossaball touches your side of the court, the other team gets a point (three points if it’s on the trampoline)
  • Winning team gets to serve
  • All of this must be played with music
  • Stylish moves (backflips, bicycle kicks etc) are encouraged

Issues

As action-packed and exciting as it sounds, it’s also highly commercialised and expensive to set up. Unless you have a couple thousand dollars to pay for the licence and another couple thousand to hire a court, this isn’t an easy game to organise. Unlike soccer, where you need a ball and items of clothing to set as goals, Bossaball, like polo and sailing, is perhaps one the least accessible sports ever invented.

Pole dancing for fitness

It's classy because it's in black and white

It’s classy because it’s in black and white

Forget swimming and gymnastics, the Olympic sport to watch in 2016 could well be pole dancing.

Yep, that’s right. Pole dancing is trying to strip off its seedy reputation (so to speak) and has submitted an official bid to be recognised as an Olympic sport.

“These women are incredible athletes. They have such grace and elegance and they absolutely belong in the Olympics,” said Timothy Trautman, CEO of the International Pole Sports Federation, in an interview with BuzzFeed.

A far-cry from its sexualised counterpart, performance pole dancing requires immense strength and coordination. Their routines are often impeccably thought-out and sometimes even imaginative.

Despite this, many believe the cultural resistance against pole dancing will be too robust to overcome, at least for now. U.S. National Pole Dancing Champion Natasha Wang is pessimistic about their Olympic aspirations. “While I support the pole community’s efforts to get pole into the Olympics,” Wang says, “I don’t think the general public is ready for the sport yet on such a mainstream/public scale.”

Regardless of whether it gets into the 2016 Olympics, there’s no doubt that pole dancing, as a sport, is growing in popularity.

A friend of mine, Tran, aged 28, has been pole dancing since October last year.  “I had a lesson for my 22nd birthday and really enjoyed it,” she says, “Last year, I saw an ad for a pole dancing class in my area and thought, ‘Stuff it, I’ll sign up’ and I’ve been going ever since.”

She says it’s improved her upper-body and core strength and that she prefers it to more conventional forms of exercise. “I used to go to the gym but I found the night classes were repetitive and boring,” says Tran, “Pole dancing is a lot more fun and that keeps me motivated.”

So why not? It keeps you fit, it’s interesting and it subverts the patriarchy. Yay feminism!

Muggle Quidditch

Harry Quidditch

Harry is over-joyed about Muggle Quidditch

Wait, what? I thought Quidditch was a fictional sport played in the Harry Potter universe?

Well yes, it was a fictional sport but now fantasy-crazed Muggles have transfigured Quidditch into an organised sport you can play without a flying broom. This is the weird and wonderful world of Muggle Quidditch.

How to Play Muggle Quidditch

Setup and Brooms

The Quidditch pitch is usually a regular sports field and marked out to the size of an indoor soccer field. On both ends, there are three upright hoops which act as goals.

Ok, you say, but will there be flying?

No, the laws of gravity still apply. Unlike the sort of Quidditch played at Hogwarts, the brooms used in Muggle Quidditch can’t fly. They’re there mostly for appearances and to make the game just a little bit more difficult. Players are expected to run, throw and catch with a broom between their legs. If the broom, of any reason, comes out from between their legs, they’ve “dismounted” and must run back to their goals before resuming play.

Here in Australia, competition regulation brooms must have soft ends. This usually means attaching bits of pool noodle on the ends of a stick.

Balls

There are three “balls” in Muggle Quidditch (the reason for the inverted commas will be evident as you read on):

  • Quaffle: there’s only ever one Quaffle on the field at any one time. It’s the goal-scoring ball. Only Chasers and Keepers may touch the Quaffle. A team gets 10 points for every time a Quaffle gets into the opposing team’s hoops. This is usually played using a half-inflated volleyball.
  •  Bludger: there are three bludgers on the field at all times. Only Beaters can touch the Bludger. If anyone besides a Beater touches or is hit by a Bludger, they’re dismounted and must go back to their hoops before they can play again. 
  • Snitch: this is the fun part. In the Harry Potter books, a Snitch was a small gold-coloured ball that flew around. In Muggle Quidditch, this role is played by a person, usually dressed in all gold or yellow, with a ball in a sock hanging out of their pants like an Oz tag. When a Seeker “catches” the Snitch by pulling the sock free from the Snitch’s pants, their team is awarded 30 points and the game is over.
Snitch dodges Seeker

Snitch dodges Seeker

Positions

There are four different positions, each with their own rules and functions:

  • Chaser: the goal-scorer. Each team has three on the field at one time. The chaser’s aim is to get the Quaffle into the hoops. As mentioned, every goal is 10 points.
  • Beater: aims to hit opposing players with a Bludger. Each team has two on the field at all times (this means each team always has one Bludger).
  • Keeper: stands at the goals and stops opposing Chasers from scoring. They can also act as a Chaser and run up and score goals themselves. Each team only has one Keeper.
  • Seeker: aims to catch the Snitch before the opposing Seeker does. Theres’s only one Seeker on each team. A Snitch-catch is 30 points and ends the game. A Seeker should time their Snitch-catch so that they’re winning at the time or at least 20 behind their opponent. This way, a Snitch-catch wins the game for that team.