According to a recent Gallup poll, 37% of Americans say that football is their favorite sport to watch. But across the world, there are plenty of quirky, unique sports to indulge in.
Here’s a list of some “out-of-this-world” sports scattered around the planet.
The national sport of Bangladesh and popular throughout South Asia since the 20th century, kabaddi is a team sport played by both genders. Teams attempt to have their offensive player, the “raider,” infiltrate the opponent’s defensive side and tag out as many opponents as possible before returning safely to their side. Think of it as a super intense game of Tag!
Volleyball lovers, this one’s for you; especially if you are up for a challenge. Sepaktakraw is like volleyball… but played with your feet. Originating in Thailand, sepaktakraw has grown into a fiercely competitive sport that rivals the popularity of soccer in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Buzkashi is Central Asia’s version of polo, especially popular in Afghanistan. The game requires four to five horsemen on each squad, and the goal is to carry a goat or calf carcass into the opposing team’s “Circle of Justice.” Sounds easy enough? Beware: unsanctioned games can last days and brutal head injuries are common.
In 1908, water polo enthusiasts in Split, Croatia, found themselves to be frustrated in their search for water deep enough to play their favorite game. Creative thinkers came up with this beach game called picigin instead! Five players stand in a circle and swat around a tennis ball, trying to keep it from touching the water.
5. Senegalese Wrestling
Traditional wrestling is popular throughout West Africa, but the Senegalese version is the only one that allows blows to the head, which brings it closer to mixed martial arts than old-school grappling. A national sport in Senegal, the sport has experienced a huge resurgence in popularity with modern champions becoming national celebrities.
6. Underwater Torpedo
This list’s newest sport, the underwater torpedo was developed by two retired Marine combat water-safety swimmers in 2017. Two teams of five play at the bottom of a deep pool and have often been referred to as an underwater form of football. Players try to move a 10-inch “torpedo” into nets anchored to the bottom of each team’s defensive side. Tackling, holding, pulling, and wrestling are all permitted, as long as players and the torpedo remain submerged, but strikes like kicks and punches are prohibited. Pros at this game should expect to have an exceptionally large lung capacity!
Considered a precursor to modern tennis, the Tuscan sport of palla pits two players or teams against each other on a rectangular court, similar to a tennis court, minus the net. Players hit the ball with their hands, as opposed to the modern-day racket, serving and returning volleys until it bounces more than once on a side, inevitably earning the other team a point. Courtside elements, like parked cars, walls, spectators, and even unsuspecting pedestrians, are all considered in play. No boundaries for this out-of-the-box sport!
Played in England since the 1600s, shin-kicking is a one-on-one combat sport that is exactly like it sounds: opponents clench their upper bodies and attempt to take their opponent to the ground using nothing but kicks to the shin. Participants wear hardened boots and stuff their pants with straw for protection and increased damage to the opponent. Once a player hits the ground, the other player wins.
Created in 1960s Brazil, biribol is volleyball played in a small motel-sized pool – just avoid calling it water volleyball! Why? A few rule variations: players can block a serve, but can’t break the plane of the net when spiking, set it ever-so-slightly apart. It’s considered Brazil’s only native team sport.
Spain broke the mold with bossaball: a hybrid of volleyball, soccer, and gymnastics. The sport is played on an inflatable court with a trampoline on each side, adding a creative twist to all three of the sports combined. Invented by Belgian Filip Eyckmans in 2005, bossaball pits two teams of four against each other. Players from each side can hit the ball up to five times, but only once with their hands or arms; the other four hits must happen with their feet, chest, head, or legs.
As entertaining and traditional as the good old American sport of football holds, along with its classic reputation in the sports industry, maybe next time you have a sports-viewing craving, try indulging in one of these bad boys!