Monday, June 9, 2014

Oddball sports that want to be taken seriously

Following up on my recent post about weird sports, I’ve compiled a list of 20 or so more fringe sports hoping to gain a bigger following.
I’ll start with sports that have some respectability because they’re in the Olympics and work my way down the really goofy ones.

USA Curling

The sport of curling has risen in popularity thanks to its inclusion in the Winter Olympics. It’s been an official sport of the Olympic Games since the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Canada has dominated the sport at the Olympics.
The game involves players sliding heavy granite stones on a sheet of ice toward a circular target area. (See “Why Curling Is Legitimately Awesome” by BuzzFeed.)
The United States Curling Association, aka USA Curling, is the national governing body for the sport in the U.S. Curling’s recent popularity has swelled the USCA to more than 165 curling clubs and 16,500 curlers in the U.S.
It doesn’t hurt the sport that some of the female players are smoking hot. (See photo of Russian curler Anna Sidorova above.)

Related reading and viewing:

Anna Sidorova now wants to turn heads with her curling. (Yahoo News; Feb. 11, 2014)

5 hottest babes of Olympic curling (Rare; Feb. 10, 2014)

Hot Rocks gallery: Curling’s bodacious bodies sex up Sochi (Canada.com; Feb. 14, 2014)

National Badminton League

Founded in 2009, the National Badminton League currently has six teams: Indiana, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego and San Francisco.
The racquet sport of badminton has been an Olympic sport since 1992. It received bad press from a scandal at the 2012 Summer Games in London when eight female badminton players were disqualified for trying to lose matches. The players from China, South Korea and Indonesia were accused of playing to lose so they could face easier opponents in future matches, drawing boos from spectators, CNN reported. The eight players concerned had all already qualified for the quarterfinals of the tournament before the final matches of the group stage.

World DanceSport Federation

The World DanceSport Federation is the global governing body for competitive ballroom dancing. It was founded in 1957 under the name International Council of Amateur Dancers. It changed to the current name in 1990 to help it gain Olympic recognition.
Dancesport has been recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee, but has not been chosen as an official medal sport in the Olympic Games.
The national governing body for dancesport in the U.S. is USA Dance.

U.S. Table Soccer Federation

Foosball, or table soccer, is one of several leisure activities looking to be taken seriously as sports.
Founded in 2002, the United States Table Soccer Federation is affiliated with the International Table Soccer Federation.

Professional Darts Corporation

The bar sport of darts is a big deal in the Great Britain. The Professional Darts Corporation is a professional darts organization, established in the United Kingdom in 1992. It holds regular competitions including the annual PDC World Darts Championship.

International Flipper Pinball Association

The International Flipper Pinball Association was founded in 2006 to elevate awareness of competitive pinball. It created the World Pinball Player Rankings to establish the first official rankings system of pinball players throughout the world. Through tournaments and leagues, the IFPA crowns the World’s Greatest Pinball Player at the end of each calendar year.

National Horseshoe Pitchers Association

The National Horseshoe Pitchers Association is a federation of 60 charters in the U.S. and Canada. But like a lot of fringe sports, the NHPA is struggling financially.
The association made a plea for sponsors and investors in a May 29 post to its Facebook page. “After six successful seasons, we’ve got everything we need to turn this breakout sport into a national craze ... except the money,” the group wrote. “Maybe this is the next ‘NASCAR’ waiting to happen! We believe it is.”

American Cornhole Organization

If horseshoe pitching is too retro (dating back to the Roman Empire), there’s cornhole. Cornhole is a lawn game or tailgate party game in which players take turns throwing small bags of corn at a raised platform with a hole in the far end.
The American Cornhole Organization was founded in 2004 with the sole purpose of promoting the game of cornhole or corn toss.

Wall Ball International

Wallball is a game played on many school yards. Wall Ball International of Sydney, Australia, was founded to promote the hand ball game.

United States ProMiniGolf Association

Forget the PGA, there’s the PMGA or Pro Mini Golf Association. The U.S. ProMiniGolf Association (its preferred style) organizes tournaments and is a member of the World MiniGolf Sports Federation. These guys take putting through windmills and other obstacles seriously.
In 2000, the World MiniGolf Sports Federation became “a provisional member in the General Association of the International Sports Federation (GAISF) which is a big step towards becoming an Olympic Sport,” the U.S. group says on its website.

Photo by Flickr user Jeffrey.

International Segway Polo Association

Playing polo on a horse is so last century. The cool kids now are playing polo on Segway self-balancing scooters.
The International Segway Polo Association is the governing body for the players and teams of Segway polo around the world.

World Juggling Federation


The World Juggling Federation is the world’s only organization devoted to the promotion and advancement of juggling as a sport. It was founded in 2003.

World Yo-Yo Contest

The World Yo-Yo Contest is a contest of yo-yo competitors from around the world. It’s run by the International Yo-Yo Federation. The annual competition is being held this year in Prague.

World Sport Stacking Association

Sport stacking (also known as cup stacking or speed stacking) is a sport that involves stacking specialized plastic cups in specific sequences in as little time as possible. The World Sport Stacking Association is the governing body that sets the rules for competition.

USA Memory Championship

This next sport is really quite impressive.
The USA Memory Championship is an annual memory competition that takes place in New York City. It is set up as a sporting event for “mental athletes.” The tournament consists of memory challenging tournament-style competitive events including memorization of: 117 names and faces, a shuffled deck of cards, an unpublished poem, and speed numbers.

That’s just a few of the many fringe sports today. There also are competitions in snail racing, pillow fighting, mechanized pumpkin tossing, unicycle football, tiddlywinks, sheep shearing, walnut head-butting and snuff consumption. There isn’t enough space to list them all.

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