Overtime: Awesome and hot athletics experts talk obscure sports

Two really important and wise sports experts. Photos by Julian Cirnigliaro.

ABBY PLUFF | CO-OPINION EDITOR | apluff@butler.edu

BRIDGET EARLY | MANAGING EDITOR | bfearly@butler.edu

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for.

As our time on The Collegian comes to a close, it’s time to do what we do best — sports, obviously. After spending the last few years of our lives doing literally anything other than writing for the Sports section, we need to come clean. Sports reporting is our true calling, and we’re really, really good at it.

With the help of a couple of lukewarm Whiteclaws and an intense period of googling, Bridget Early and Abby Pluff are getting ready to take over the newspaper once and for all. We’d like to dedicate this one to Bridget’s housemate, whose YouTube metrics are now probably irreparably messed up. Sorry Genny gurl.

We aren’t the only ones making a debut in the Sports section: after putting our formidable skill and expertise in the worlds of sports and numbers to good use, we’re pleased to debut the Metric Sandifer Scale, the first ranking system of its kind. We’ll be using it to rate five of the best sports you’ve never heard of. 

So buckle up, basketball bros, and get ready to learn a thing or two about sports. 

Wife-carrying

Rating: 3.5/5 Sand-Mans 

From what we can tell, this sport has its origins in Sonkajärvi, Finland. According to Ye Olde Wikipedia page, wife-carrying began back in the olden days, when Finnish robbers would break into sleeping towns and villages, stealing women and food as they tiptoed their way around like pre-sunrise little Grinches. Yes, that is the technical athletic terminology.

The first world championship was held in 1997, and things have been going strongly ever since, we think. The competition is a multi-day affair, and includes a Wife-Carrying Parade of Nations opening ceremony and a tractor parade as part of the festivities, which we were unclear on the significance of but were extremely entertained by.

The event itself is held on an obstacle course, which includes a track, a massive pit of water, and a huge log that stretches across the path before the finish line. The husbands — husbands? Men? Assorted tractor drivers? Lots of mystery on this one — carry their partners on their backs through the course, either in a fireman carry, a “classic piggyback” maneuver, or in what’s known as the “Estonian carry,” but what we’ve dubbed the “voluntary drowning” position. Contestants must stop and reconfigure their carry if they fumble their partner.

Frankly, we finished our analysis of this sport with a lot of questions. Are the women allowed to wear shoes? What are the rules for polygamists? How does one practice the standard techniques, especially the McCaffrey Buttock Swivel?

Most importantly, we’d like to note that the after-party is just a lot of drunk men carrying as many people as they can in one go. Clothes appear optional. 

Wife-carrying falls in the middle of our rankings — we’d give it a try, but only if excessive Borat references are acceptable, and only if Abby can wear shoes, specifically Sperrys. We will not be taking any questions at this time.

Bog snorkeling

1.5/5 Sandifers

A sport that began in 1976 in Wales, U.K., bog snorkeling is marked by a deep commitment to being, well, disgusting. It takes place in semi-shallow trenches of water that, according to this video by CNN, “tastes like unwashed potatoes,” and is similar in color and consistency to a well-crafted oat milk latte — Bridget and Abby’s favorite beverage, barring a deep and fulfilling love for ciders. This mud-water concentrate seems, to our trained eyes, outlandishly cold.

In this extreme sport, athletes travel to the U.K. to hop into a man-made trench in a vast and unpopulated field and swim 120 yards with nothing but goggles and a poorly-fitted snorkel. There is very little specification for what exactly to wear in this situation, with the athletes ranging in clothing choices from a shark costume to a full wetsuit to a very, very small speedo. Very small. Eyes: burned.

If you don’t have the money for a plane ticket, however, have no fear: there’s a simple hack for local bog-snorkeling.

“How different is it really from the lazy river at a waterpark?” Abby said. “So yeah, basically I would and I have [tried bog snorkeling].”

Contestants swim their two laps, 60 yards down and 60 yards back, in trout-and-water-scorpion-infested waters. Yes, you read that correctly. Water scorpions exist. 

Participants in this sport aren’t permitted to use any established swim strokes; only doggy paddling and the aid of their trusty flippers is allowed. For most people, the average time it takes to snorkel the bog is two or two-and-a-half minutes, but the world record holder managed it in one minute and 18.2 seconds. Pretty speedy if you ask us!

This is clearly no sport for the unprepared. After giving it some extensive thought, our assessments of bog snorkeling’s feasibility ranged widely.

“Definitely f*ckin Henry could do it,” Abby said. “I feel like that man can hold his breath for some reason. I know Favakeh cannot, and I feel like Sandifer … WELLLLL, Sandifer might be close, I’ll give him that one.”

As gross and captivating as it may be to watch people swim through iced-mud-latte water, former Olympic swimmer Bridget described it best:

“This looks like the worst swim meet I’ve ever been to,” Bridget said. “This looks like a lot of pain for minimal reward.”

Ultimately, this was not our favorite sport to watch, ringing in at the lowest amount of Sandifers. Especially because of, obviously, water scorpions. We still can’t believe they exist.

Mountain unicycling

4/5 Drewskies

Have you ever considered bouncing up and down a rocky cliff in the Swiss Alps on a singular wheel and unstable seating with little to no safety gear? No? Us neither.

Mountain unicycling is not only captivating to watch, but is also so frightening and suspenseful that Abby has considered giving up horror movies entirely. Not that she was that into them before, or anything. Those who participate in this bat-sh*t-crazy activity are quite obviously brave and most likely dislike being alive; they joyfully pedal their little circus-mobiles over terrain that we wouldn’t dare walk without knee pads, and use the one lone handle near their crotch to anchor them to their solitary wheel. Wild. Insane. So very interesting.

“This looks like a legit sport,” Bridget said. “Would I do it? Hell no.”

Mountain unicycling is the only sport of this set that actually encourages safety gear, which is a cute and trendy way to signal to others that you’ve put thought and energy into pedaling off a mountain. Let’s hear it for lifelong healthy habits! 

Mountain unicycling is something that grows on you, the more you take it in. It’s like watching Delt’s Trike Week: the prospect of seeing grown men furiously pedal their way around on toys meant for clowns and children is more than enough to keep us on the edge of our seats. 

In fact, like fraternity brothers, there is something strangely intimidating about these athletes at first, until you figure out that they’re more like intense labradors than anything else.

“During the first video, I was afraid we were watching incels,” Bridget said. “Okay, so you got clowned for unicycling when you were twelve, so what?”

But then, the sheer chaos of the trails these men are unicycling suck you in, and you’re lost in the world of one-wheeled-wilding.

Like its two-wheeled sister sport, however, there is a dark side to mountain unicycling. As with road biking, scandals abound. 

“Some of this looks very green screen,” Abby said. 

The Collegian will continue to follow this story as it develops. Oh, and we give it a high score for actually looking like it takes some skill — if it’s not a deep fake, of course.

Cheese-rolling

5/5 Sandifers

Honestly, this one was pretty f*ckin wild. 

Called “the most dangerous foot race in the world” by the guy who narrated the Netflix doc we watched, cheese-rolling was invented sometime between the dawn of the universe and the mid-1850s, according to the oral history of Brockworth, U.K., the sport’s city of origin. 

The event takes place on Cooper’s Hill, a massive hill that looms over the town below. The slope is a 45-degree incline, and is about the length of an Olympic swimming pool — or two lengths of a bog snorkeling course, if you need additional clarification. 

There are three men’s competitions per year, and one women’s competition, because men are three times more stupid than women, according to our research. No really, they said it on Netflix, so it has to be true.

In the preparatory phases of the race, the town’s elders spend hours painstakingly wrapping an eight-pound wheel of Double Gloucester cheese — which absolutely hits with crackers and a little pino, by the way — in a layer of protective tape. This procedure is, in our professional opinion, pretty adorable.

“My favorite part was when they made the old people wrap the cheese,” Abby said.

The layer is a necessary step because it protects the cheese as it rockets at 80 miles an hour down Cooper’s Hill, about the speed at which we’ll be fired for writing this article. 

The event itself can only loosely be called a foot race. Mostly, it’s a horde of adrenaline-juiced young people hurling themselves “Princess Bride” style down the slope, with the winner being the first person to cross the finish line — preferably alive. Extensive bodily harm isn’t a problem, though: the ambulances waiting to meet finishers are hemmed in by crowds of people chanting “Cheese! Cheese! Cheese!” which we think is the perfect walk-off song/Intensive Care Unit hype anthem.

“As a vegan, I would not put my life at risk to chase a cheese,” said British Inspector Paul Cruise. Sounds like the kind of killjoy energy we’d expect from a cop.

For people braver than the feds, which is most people, cheese rolling is both a source of pride and a connection to a time-honored tradition. Or, if you’re four-time Champion Cheese Chaser Florence Early, it’s a chance to represent the purest version of feminism imaginable: throwing yourself at the mercy of the gods for an oversized hunk of dairy. 

“I am too short to be afraid,” Early said. 

Her dedication to her sport is certainly remarkable: Early, whom we can neither confirm nor deny is just Bridget with a bowl cut, has a permanently-dislocated collarbone as a result of her third race, and her fourth race ended with a broken ankle — not to be confused with a cracked skull — which she propped nonchalantly on her prize cheese wheel as she iced it. This chick is hard as nails, and we love it. 

We put this event at the top of our ratings, in part because we’re in awe of the competitors and in part because this event involves snacks.

Extreme ironing

4.5/5 Sandys

We’d like to pause for a moment and ask: Is everyone in the U.K. alright? Why do y’all keep inventing these sports, and can you please stop?

In keeping with our theme of “the U.K. needs therapy,” here’s extreme ironing.

Invented by Leicester knit factory worker and “visionary ironist” Phil Shaw, extreme ironing is a, um, unique sport if we’ve ever seen one. Athletes take their household chores to new heights with this mixture of domestic duty, creativity and a need to be special at all times. Huge “pick-me” energy.

In 1997, Shaw was finishing up his laundry outdoors after a long day at work, and was caught by his housemate. When asked what he was doing, he responded “extreme ironing.” So, basically he had been thinking about that line since he woke up that fateful morn. 

Since then, the sport has expanded to include five events: forestry, rock wall, aquatic, vehicular and freestyle ironing. EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have ever successfully ironed anything in a bog trench, please contact us with your story. 

Fast forward to 2002, where the first — and only — Extreme Ironing World Championship is held in Germany. There was indeed yodeling involved. Of course. Obviously.

More than 80 athletes participated in this super-ironing-day, with competitors from 10 countries traveling to show their cloth flattening talent and domestic ability to the masses. These athletes have worked their magic everywhere from the depths of a swimming pool — don’t worry, no water scorpions here! — to the heights of Kilimanjaro, a pretty impressive way of making household labor even more obnoxious than it already is. 

“You know, I really do see this going to the Olympics someday,” Shaw said. Who’s gonna tell him? Certainly not us. We’ll leave that one to the actual experts. 

Poor Phil. This mans is so confident he even wrote a book, which you can buy for a mere $306.63 on Amazon. Maybe extreme ironing really is going somewhere.

Winners are not only chosen from their inventive ironing tactics, but are also graded on their ability to actually remove the wrinkles from their chosen piece of cloth. While this may sound silly, it appears to be much more difficult than your typical Sunday laundry session. Plus, finding an electrical outlet in the middle of a forest is probably its own extreme sport, so you’re getting two for the price of one!

Overall, this was easily the most engaging sport to watch, with athletes absolutely risking their lives for a cleanly-pressed tee. 

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