One time-tested method for introducing humor and a competitive spirit into a fictional story is to invent a game or sport for the enjoyment of the story’s characters. Bill Waterson’s Calvin & Hobbes comic strip had Calvinball, a game with only two rules: masks must be worn at all times, and it can never be played the same way twice. Lewis Carroll introduced the idea of croquet played with flamingo mallets and hedgehogs in the Alice books, while J. K. Rowling famously invented Quidditch and its lesser-known American variation, Quodpot, which involves an exploding ball.
Surprisingly, there are sports and sporting events held through the world each year that are equally as strange as anything presented in these stories. While they don’t get as much media attention as the most popular sports, like basketball, football, and soccer (none of which can be considered exactly “normal”), they demonstrate just as much ingenuity and inventiveness as any of these sports. The following are a few of the most notable.
10. Wife-carrying (Finland)
photo: Visit Lakeland
Wife-carrying is a sport in which a man carries his wife or another female partner over his shoulder through a challenging obstacle course. The sport originated in Finland in the late 1990s, loosely based on the old legend of a robber who challenged his fellow gang members to compete in events with a woman on their back. The game’s inventors said they wanted to have one news event each year that provoked laughter. Today the sport is practiced in Australia, Sweden, Estonia, and America, with the North American Wife-Carrying Championship taking place in May each year.
9. The International Quidditch Association World Cup
Quidditch is a bit of an obsession for the characters in the Wizarding world of Harry Potter, but it’s also an increasingly popular sport in the Muggle world. Typically played on the ground with broomsticks between legs rather than in the air, this version of Quidditch features a player carrying a “snitch” inside a golden or yellow sock who must be caught by the seeker in order for the game to end. The International Quidditch Association World Cup is held each year at different locations in the continental United States.