Bo-taoshi. Starting off the list is one of the least odd sports. This Japanese sport is a massive affair with teams totalling 150 people. On each team 75 people are defence and 75 offence. The defenders try to keep their wooden pole standing vertically while the attackers run down the field to try to knock over their opponents pole. A team scores when the pole is perpendicular to the ground, or in some versions at a 45-degree angle in relation to it.
Clog Cobbing. Certainly not a traditional sport and with origins about as British as the next item on this list is American, clog cobbing isn’t too well known. And unless you from the UK you might not know that ‘to cob’ is a slang word for ‘to throw’ so you would be hard-pressed to guess the sport involved throwing clogs down a street as far as possible. You’ll probably not be surprised to learn it began one drunken night in the 1960s, but now there are competitions for clog cobbing.
Competitive Eating. This activity is a sport only inasmuch as one considers any type of formal competition a sport. Unsurprisingly this sport comes from America—where it’s no doubt at least partially responsible for many of the world’s more negative stereotypes about Americans and American culture—but it’s also practised in Canada and by a fluke of globalisation in Japan too. Pie eating contests were commonplace in county fairs across the United States as early as 1900. Children would have to eat a sweet, often fruit-filled pie as quickly as possible, sometimes without the benefit of hands or utensils. The famous hotdog seller Nathan’s at Coney Island has been holding a competition every 4 July since 1970 however, which really made it a staple of fringe American culture.
Ostrich Racing. This sport isn’t so bizarre necessarily, but certainly uncommon. The idea of racing anything (and there are races for camels, humans, elephants, frogs, goats, turtles, crickets and probably hundreds more) isn’t uncommon but riding an ostrich most assuredly rare. This form of racing has been known to occur in much of southern and eastern Africa, where ostriches are indigenous. In the late 1800s however when the world was opening up owning to steam power, electricity and the Industrial Revolution, ostriches and the sport made their way to the United States. In 1892 an ostrich farm opened in Florida and became the state’s primary tourist attraction in numbers.
Zorbing. Sometimes known as zorb ball this is one of the oddest sports on this list and that’s an achievement in itself. This ‘sport’ was invented in the mountains of New Zealand and is not for anyone sensitive to motion sickness! Sometimes in non-realistic action films the hero jumps from a plane, inflates a massive ball instead of a parachute and bounces to safety. Well, minus the probably flaming plane that’s essentially what zorbing is. One gets inside a giant inflatable ball and rolls down the mountain. Decidedly strange, but surely an adrenaline rush!