It is no secret that the United States is a sport-loving nation, both as participants and spectators. According to a report by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), more than 60 percent of U.S. adults (about 162 million) claim to have some kind of affiliation to sport-related activities with parents, in general, mentioning both social and personal ideals when defining their sporting hopes for their children. As far as positive influences on the American youth are concerned, sports coaches rank right at the top, highlighting the value competing in competitive sport can have on individuals of all ages.
According to a 2012 article by Forbes, there are approximately 5,000 professional athletes across the four largest North American sports leagues with hundreds of thousands more engaging in a sport at a recreational level. While football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and hockey are considered to be the ‘big ones’ as far as participation and viewership are concerned, there are an increasing amount of lesser known (and some downright absurd) sports that are fast gaining popularity both in America and abroad.
The magical world portrayed in the Harry Potter franchise has given birth to a real-life version of the seemingly impossible Quidditch. Die-hard fans of the series were not deterred by the laws of physics when they created their own version of the game at Middlebury College in Vermont. The reality-bound version may not have the same sense of magic about it but doesn’t mean the players aren’t passionate.
The International Quidditch Association has grown rather rapidly in just a few years and now includes hundreds of teams scattered over just about every continent. The exact same rules and scoring system that is used in the series applies to the real-life version with one exception, no flying.
Americans of all ages love their football, especially in Texas where Marcus Garland invented unicycle football back in 2008. The sport started when Garland convinced a few locals to try playing football while on unicycles and it took off from there. The sport currently has a league with 8 teams of 5 competing in a 56-game season. As entertaining as unicycle football is to play (and watch) players often knock into each other causing pileups of cycles and players and countless injuries ranging from slight abrasions to broken bones.
As absurd as it may seem, ostrich racing is, in fact, very real. The sport originated in Africa but is fast becoming popular in the USA and involves a jockey sitting on an ostrich and racing around a specially-designed track. Last year the Annual Chandler Chamber Festival in Arizona held its 29th race. Ostrich racing is extremely exciting for both jockeys and spectators but can also be very dangerous. Falling off an ostrich and getting trampled can lead to grave injury and even death. Ostriches can run up to 43 miles an hour and take strides of up to 16 ft long – making it no wonder that they are the most feared birds in the world.
Whether you are a pro-athlete competing in the NBA or a Regular Joe who enjoys the occasional Quidditch game, you will reap a plethora of health and wellness related benefits from engaging in such physical activities. While some of the more-absurd sporting disciplines might not land you a spot in the next US Olympic Team you are bound to have a load of fun competing in them, which, at the end of the day, can supply you with a lifetime of well-deserved fitness and happiness.
By Jane Sandwood