Studio Minuit Unusual Sports

How these sports came about, we don't quite understand. Some are traditional, some are hyper-local, and some must've just been a way to kill time. Be surprised by these crazy, wacky, weird sports!

Cheese rolling : a rolling cheese gathers no moss
Cheese rolling : a rolling cheese gathers no moss (00:02:59)
Chris Anderson, a former British soldier, is about to race down a hill to catch a speeding cheese. With over twenty wins, this local star from the village of Brockworth isn't afraid of sprains. No, this isn’t a pitch for a Monty Python sketch, although the story does have a whiff of absurd British humour...
Calcio Storico : modern gladiators
Calcio Storico : modern gladiators (00:03:28)
You probably know Florence for its Italian charm and its reputation of being one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The jewel of Tuscany, the cradle of the Renaissance, a city of culture with many museums that echo its historical and privileged link with art and architecture, it is even known as the "capital of the arts". However, the most violent sport on our list comes straight from Florence : Calcio Storico, also known as Florentine Calcio, is a traditional sport of the city, where four districts compete annually in a discipline that is a cross between a football match and a combat between gladiators...
Fierljeppen : jumping the gap
Fierljeppen : jumping the gap (00:03:08)
Don't be afraid of this barbaric soundic name, it simply means "long jump" in Frisian, the second official language of Friesland, a northern province of the Netherlands. But what exactly is this discipline? It's a kind of pole vaulting, where you try to cross a canal or other such waterway. Unlike the pole vault in track & field, the competitor runs without the pole (it's too big and heavy) ; instead, the pole is erected vertically in the waterway itself. Our athlete will then run and jump on the pole, catch it, and use it to propel himself as far as possible to land on the other side, where the bank is usually arranged with sand to cushion the fall.
Slamball : Back to the future
Slamball : Back to the future (00:03:17)
If the name rings a bell, it's probably because you're a Back to the Future fan. Indeed, in the second opus, the Slamball is mentioned as being one of the sports practiced by the turbulent Needles Douglas, Marty McFly's colleague played by the rockstar Flea, bass player of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But what is Slamball ?
Chessboxing : a healthy mind in a healthy body
Chessboxing : a healthy mind in a healthy body (00:03:22)
d4. d5. c4. No, this is not a naval battle, but a chess opening. Imagine for a moment : you are facing your opponent, the stopwatch is running, as soon as you make your move you tap the clock to count down the opponent's time. With a sharp eye, you try to fathom your opponent while he thinks about which piece to move. But on the other side of this tactical battle, your opponent is... shirtless. And so are you...
Hobby horsing : better than air guitar
Hobby horsing : better than air guitar (00:02:26)
You've all seen, at least via archive footage, a child straddling a stick and pretending it’s a horse. What we are talking about here is on a completely different level. Hobby horsing is the extension of this, the modern and sportive version. It appeared in Finland about ten years ago and was popularized thanks to the internet. Hobby horsing was at the beginning a self-organization of young girls, most of them with riding experience. These Finnish teenagers got together and gradually structured this practice into a real discipline.
The great Pumpkin Regatta : James and the giant pumpkin
The great Pumpkin Regatta : James and the giant pumpkin (00:02:41)
Why race a boat when you can race a giant pumpkin ! As odd as it may sound, there is indeed a giant pumpkin boat race held every fall on Lake Pesaquid in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Founded in 1999, the race has become a popular event in the region; since 2010 it has welcomed more than ten thousand spectators, both Canadian and American. Indeed, the United States are always fond of things gigantic.
The Eton Wall Game : another brick in the wall
The Eton Wall Game : another brick in the wall (00:03:20)
The height of elitism and absurdity, the Eton Wall Game is a pure product of the English establishment. Played at Eton College, not far from the royal town of Windsor, it is probably the most aristocratic sport in the world. First played in the early 18th century, a match has been held every year since 1766, underlining the weight of tradition. Founded in 1440 by King Henry VI, Eton College is considered the cradle of English royalty, and the world's aristocracy is keen to send their children to this prestigious school.
Camel jumping : defying gravity
Camel jumping : defying gravity (00:02:35)
Dromedary races are a well-known custom of various countries in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia (the single-humped dromedary is also called Arabian camel). But did you know that there were camel jumping competitions? This sport doesn’t involve riding camels and jumping over obstacles, as one would do on horseback: no, it's about jumping over the animals! This discipline is practiced in Yemen, more precisely among the Zaranique tribe at the edge of the Red Sea. The competition starts with a traditional ceremony, where the athletes perform a dance with knives. Then, as in the track & field discipline of the high jump, it is an individual event where the obstacle grows higher and higher until there is only one athlete left.
Headis : german innovation
Headis : german innovation (00:02:58)
Also known as "head tennis", headis is a sport that appeared at German universities in the 2000s. It is simply playing table tennis, but instead of a racket and a ping-pong ball, players use their head and a football ! Indeed, students at the University of Kaiserslauten in particular often played on the available ping-pong tables when the football pitches were occupied. Little by little, emulation created a real competitive spirit in this new discipline...
Underwater hockey : why make it simple when you can make it complicated
Underwater hockey : why make it simple when you can make it complicated (00:02:59)
After ice hockey and field hockey, here comes underwater hockey ! Although unusual, underwater hockey is not such a recent invention. Also called octopush, the sport was created by the British navy in 1954 ; a winter aquatic activity, made possible by heated swimming pools. The sport was officially recognized in 1978 by the World Confederation of Underwater Activities. Underwater hockey is still played in the pool, just like water polo. It is, to this day, the only team sport played underwater !
Iron arm : duel under testosterone
Iron arm : duel under testosterone (00:03:22)
Everyone knows about arm wrestling. Most of you have probably tried it with your friends. But did you know that it has been an official sport for almost 50 years ? The first competitions took place in the United States, but the sport is especially successful in Eastern Europe. Thus, history’s best armwrestlers - the name given to the atheletes of armwrestling - are mainly American, Canadian, Russian and Ukrainian. Today, the World Armwrestling Federation has more than 80 member countries...
Caber toss : extreme lumberjacks
Caber toss : extreme lumberjacks (00:02:53)
Caber Toss is the discipline of log throwing, popularized in Scotland. Historically speaking, it was originally a technique used to move tree trunks felled by the woodcutters, especially across waterways. Around the 12th century, the caber became a traditional game under the Scottish king Malcolm III. This practice was also used as a training exercise for soldiers or as a recruitment test in several Scottish clans. Nevertheless, from the beginning of the 19th century, the folkloric character took over, and the caber toss found itself at the center of popular festivities...
Ultimate Tazer Ball : the tension is high
Ultimate Tazer Ball : the tension is high (00:02:42)
If drunk football sounded unusual, wait til you hear about the Ultimate Tazer Ball! Yes, you heard right: "tazer". And yes, you guessed it right, it's all about juicing your opponent. Before you get too worried, you should know the tazers are set to only 5 milliamperes; power enough to destabilize your opponent so that they lose control of the ball, but not enough to put them in danger. Moreover, the tazers can only be used in the equivalent of a football penalty box. Because Ultimate Tazer Ball – apart from its electrical particularity - is a mix between American football and handball.
Fyllefotball : playing in moderation
Fyllefotball : playing in moderation (00:03:07)
In 2020 the Danish Filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg directed Drunk, an award-winning film at the Cannes Festival. In it, a group of schoolteacher friends decide to drink regularly during the day in order to be perpetually tipsy. In drunk football, invented in 2016, the principle is similar. This time, the setting is Norway, where a famous local youtuber comes up with an idea to cheat the cold, the boredom, or maybe both. A game of football, where each player has a minimum blood alcohol level of one gram per liter. To keep their blood alcohol level from going down over the course of the match, players continue to drink as they play. Fyllefotball, "drunken football" in Norwegian, is born.
Angola prison rodeo : absurdly made in the USA
Angola prison rodeo : absurdly made in the USA (00:02:54)
When it comes to the Angola Prison Rodeo... nothing seems quite normal ! Everything is unusual in this competition that takes place between April and October, starting with its location: a high security prison in Louisiana ! Twice a year, an atypical festival is organized, with craft creations, visiting audiences, fundraising to finance projects for the prisoners... and a series of rodeo competitions in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, nicknamed "Angola" or "The Plantation" because of its colonial slave past.
Sepak Takraw : volley with your feet
Sepak Takraw : volley with your feet (00:03:01)
Let's stay in Southeast Asia with a very popular sport in Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia and especially Thailand. Sepek Takraw, which means "to kick a ball", is sometimes called kickvolleyball in Europe. Indeed, as surprising as it may seem, it is a kind of volleyball but where players can use the whole surface of their body except arms and hands. They perform acrobatic returns worthy of a footballer to smash near the net !
Pacu jawi : racing in the rice
Pacu jawi : racing in the rice (00:02:59)
Pacu Jawi means "bull race" in Indonesian: held in West Sumatra several times a year to accompany the rice harvest cycle, this race consists of holding two bulls as they run through the muddy rice fields. Each participant stands on a plough pulled by two cattle, holding onto their tails like water skiers as they slide down the muddy track. The event is very spectacular, and it is the highlight of the agricultural festival that takes place between the planting of the rice.
Pea shoot : english breakfast
Pea shoot : english breakfast (00:02:46)
Perhaps you remember assembling makeshift blowguns back in your school days, when you shot out little pellets of wet paper at your classmates. The British, world leaders in unusual sports, decided to go even further. In the 1980s, they had the brilliant idea of making this childhood game an accuracy competition. For this, participants have real blowpipes about 12 inches long, with a more or less sophisticated eyepiece. Some of the more experienced shooters even have laser scopes ! The shooters aim at a target covered with putty and located 3 and a half yards away. As ammunition, they use peas. Certainly a better choice than eating them for breakfast, but an unusual choice nevertheless !
Goanna pulling : wake up the animal in you
Goanna pulling : wake up the animal in you (00:02:44)
Australia is a land of dangers, home to hundreds of the most dangerous species of animals in the world. One of them being Man, in particular the Australian, a kind of daredevil whose hobby is to endanger his own life. It is thus without much surprise that the Australians invented in the 19th century an unusual sport, inspired by the local fauna. Goanna Pulling is based on the principle of a tug-of-war, but with one particularity, and not the least: you have to pull with your neck!
Kin-Ball : Canada's legendary team spirit
Kin-Ball : Canada's legendary team spirit (00:03:07)
Who else but Canadians could have invented a sport based on cooperation and fair play? Appearing at the end of the 1980's with an educational aim, this practice created by a Quebec gym teacher is mainly played in North America. But over time it’s been exported all over the world, and today claims just over 4 million licensees, according to the international federation.
Onbashira : six years of waiting for six seconds of descent
Onbashira : six years of waiting for six seconds of descent (00:03:09)
If Japan is distinguished by the longevity of its population, here is a tradition that has lasted for nearly 1200 years ! The Onbashira, meaning "the celestial pillars", is a festival that takes place every 6 years in the mountains of the Nagano region (every 7 years according to the Japanese way of counting). Divided into two parts, this extremely popular festival consists of the symbolic replacement of the pillars of the Suwa-Taisha temples by huge fir trunks about 50 feet long and 10 tons each...
Office chair race : the white collar racecourse
Office chair race : the white collar racecourse (00:02:33)
The Germans are known for their reputation of rigour and professionalism. Strangely enough, though, this next sport comes directly from our Teutonic friends. Have you ever wanted to cross an open space on wheels in an office chair ? In this discipline, which originated in the early 2000s, work desks are replaced by an inclined course about 200 yards long, where the participants race down a straight line at full speed...
Frisbee golf : Woods in the woods
Frisbee golf : Woods in the woods (00:03:04)
Tiger Woods scans the course: hole #12 is located in front of a body of water. The wind is non-existent, the conditions are ideal ! The champion concentrates, victory is in his grasp. The American approaches his caddie ; but this time, he does not choose a club but retrieves a frisbee...
Quidditch : sweep the competition
Quidditch : sweep the competition (00:03:22)
There's no need to introduce Quidditch, the famous team sport from the Harry Potter saga played on flying brooms. But did you know there is a version for muggles, that is to say nonwizards like you and your friends ? Contrary to what one might imagine, it isn’t the English who exported this discipline into the real world, but the Americans. In 2005 the rules were set, and in barely two years, it became a popular sport in many American colleges, even spurring the organization of a World Cup...
Bog snorkeling : a muddy good time
Bog snorkeling : a muddy good time (00:02:36)
The Fin Taisto Miettinen is a multiple World Champion of Eukonkanto. Mayor of his city in civic life, his sporting achievements are extensive, and all among the most unusual. In addition to the famous wife-carrying competition mentioned previously, he distinguishes himself in bog-snorkelling : an aquatic race in peat bogs! This discipline from Wales consists of a swimming race in a muddy trench of about 50 yards in the middle of the marshes. The equipment consists of a wetsuit, a mask, a snorkel and a pair of flippers. In one edition, the race was even done with a bicycle !
Eukonkanto : putting your relationship to the test
Eukonkanto : putting your relationship to the test (00:03:42)
If you want to know how your wife feels about bearing the weight of your marriage all year round, try Eukonkanto, an unusual Finnish sport. The name simply means "wife carrying" in Finnish ! The origin of this discipline is rather vague, although sources agree on the existence of a certain Herkko Rosvo Ronkainen, leader of a group of bandits living in the forest in the 19th century. One version refers to a training method for thieves who carried heavy bags on their backs through the forest to improve their physical condition. Another version of this legend is more sordid since the thieves would have kidnapped women from neighboring villages by taking them on their back. Well, the genesis may be barbaric, but the sport is much more civilized...
Bo-taoshi : delusions of grandeur
Bo-taoshi : delusions of grandeur (00:03:22)
Japan is a fascinating country, where on the one hand a certain restraint and discretion is promoted, and on the other hand the most absurd and eccentric TV games are produced. But very often it is the collective spirit that is put forward. Thus, it is not surprising to see games involving a large number of participants: this is the case of Bo-Taoshi, an unusual discipline whose name means "knock down the pole"!
Chase Tag : the parkour remix
Chase Tag : the parkour remix (00:02:48)
As we mentioned earlier, most of us have played tag as children. In the schoolyard, for example, we used to chase each other, one of us having to touch the other children. It's the idea of the cat and the mouse. In fact, it was while playing with his son that Englishman Christian Devaux had the idea to develop a sports version in 2011...
Cheese rolling : a rolling cheese gathers no moss