By Nicole Campoy-Leffler
There is a very human itch that we all need to scratch. While you peel your mind out of the gutter, we'll
clarify that we're referring to the thrill of competition; the need to experience the adrenaline rush that
comes with trying to squash your competitors. And there are manifold ways to satisfy a competitive spirit
as evidenced, if by nothing else, by the innumerable food-sporting events that range from bizarre to more-
It doesn't take much to spark that familiar rush. Competition doesn't care if you're throwing a football or a
pumpkin, which is why sports like Punkin Chunkin' and cheese rolling have reached a popularity perhaps only
rivaled by beer pong (which has a World Series, FYI).
|Slideshow: World's weirdest sporting events|
And while part of the thrill of competing does come from the fans, particularly if they're cheering for you and
not against you, there's something to be said for banding together with a smaller group of folks as obsessed
with stinging nettle eating as you are.
They may not get the same airtime as, say, soccer or basketball, but some of these food-sporting events,
like olive oil wrestling, have made a name for themselves around the world and have even spawned copycat
versions played during festivals and parties.
Just because you couldn't make the junior varsity team as a senior doesn't mean you have any less of a
competitive spirit than the guy still reliving his high school quarterback glory days.
• Punkin' Chunkin'
The popularity of this food-sport reaches far beyond whatever you’re thinking. If the book, "Pie in the Sky: the Authorized History of Punkin Chunkin'" isn’t enough to convince you, perhaps 2010’s multi-part show on Discovery's Science Channel (one of its highest rated shows ever) will drive the point home. People just love (and excel at) building machines that will chuck pumpkins as high and far as possible. This year’s Chunk runs Nov. 4–6 and will air on the Science Channel yet again.
• Olive Oil Wrestling
Next time someone asks you what the national sport of Turkey is, you can now tell them: oil wrestling. Wrestlers wear outfits called "kisbets," but are more notably covered head-to-toe in olive oil. And while it is not yet an Olympic sport (we'll keep you posted if it pops up on the London 2012 schedule), the rules and ranking system are detailed and very involved. Each match is called by watching for which player's "umbilicus is exposed to heaven" first. That guy loses.
• Beer Can Regattas
Australians love beer (or so the Foster's ads told us) and, it turns out, they also love milk. And in a creative display of sustainability and recycling, they thought of a way to make sure every part of those beer cans and milk cartons get used -- milk carton and beer can regattas. Milk cartons are used in Adelaide and beer cans in Darwin, but the principles remain very similar. Boats can come in any shape or size, but they must be made entirely out of either milk cartons or beer cans.
• Cheese Rolling
Take a round of Double Gloucester cheese, walk to the top of Cooper's Hill (near Gloucester in the Cotswalds), set it off down the hill, and then throw yourself to the ground and roll after it. First one to the bottom wins the race, the wheel of cheese, and the glory. The event has been a tradition for over 200 years and to this day is run come rain, shine, or official cancellations. 2010 and 2011 races were organized by “rebels” who couldn’t bear the thought of a cheese-rolling-less year.
• Pancake Racing
The day before Lent should be a day of over-indulging in all the things you're giving up for the next 40 days. And in Liberal, Kansas, over-indulging means pancake racing. The people of Kansas compete against their counterparts in Olney, England, by running down the streets of each town, flipping pancakes -- often in wild costumes. At the moment, in the head-to-head, Kansas is winning, though throughout the contest's long history the lead has switched back and forth often.
• World Series Of Beer Pong
No longer limited to college kids taking advantage of moving miles away from home, beer pong is a nationally recognized sport — with a World Series and everything. Held in Las Vegas and offering a grand prize of $50,000, the World Series of Beer Pong is a serious event with serious rules that, well ... just mirror the game we all played as college students. Take rule H, part 1 (“The Dips#%t Not Paying Attention Rule”) for example: If team #1 knocks over one of their cups, they lose that cup unless team #2 is likewise full of not-paying-attention dips%#ts and don’t notice. Then, the game proceeds like nothing happened.