edited: Thursday, February 21, 2002
By William Alan Rieser
Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2002
Become a Fan
A definitive look at the great unrecorded unknown games from the imagination of hysterical sports enthusiasts.
There are literally thousands of games in existence and, as I have had occasion to learn, many more that have not withstood the test of time. It is human nature to be a gamester, that is, to play with others when playing with oneself becomes tiresome or routine. One must also concede that popularity determines the life and history of specific games because, as I will demonstrate, there have been numerous thrilling examples of man's ingenuity in these venues that never managed to achieve status, namely, media exploitation. In fact, there are quite a few noteworthy ventures that have been decidedly ignored and cut off from exposure to the public view. I have been shocked to discover just how
many outrages have been snubbed by the beer manufacturers and left abysmally un-sponsored by the chip condiment establishment.
I think it is time for sports enthusiasts to be introduced to reality. The Oxford defines sport as fun, a diversion or amusement involving competitive athleticism. Fine. On the one hand you have millions of wannabes watching the millionth home run of this week's millionaire as it soars over the newest million dollar bleachers to justify the latest multi-million network merger. I have nothing against
mediocrities earning a buck. On the other hand there is Chicago's Dwarf Throwing contest. On Milwaukee and Grand Avenues one can still make out the painted hash marks on the brick wall adjacent to Sullivan's concrete alley delineating the distance achieved in the most recent stunning tourney. Twenty-eight feet as I recall. Who amongst you can cast a dwarf that far? I'd wager you neither possess a ticket stub nor have ever purchased the scalped variety. Need I say that there is no coverage, much less an astro-turf, palatial environment.
A mere thirty miles west in the corn fields of the Dim Belt reside the undrugged and clueless that participate in Cow Chip Bingo and Cow Tipping, a real favorite among imported Aussies and other sheep admirers. Just watching the opponents set up the playing field is not only instructive but medicinal, especially for the recently divorced. Yet, in spite of this sport's obvious
satisfaction and the clear need for people to exact vengeance against dumb, helpless animals, I couldn't detect a single news hound, dooming this worthy offering to that invisible bunghole in the sky.
The media classifies bowling as a fun diversion and backs it up with money, cameras and advertising, replete with the necessary blonde bimbos, brunette bimbettes and the current rage, bowlegged bimbies. Bowl polemics are nearly a
household word. Everybody knows about strikes, spares and splits but this limp endeavor hardly stacks up against such lucid classics as Giant Squid Harness Racing where even the officiating is more amusing than gutterballs. Roto Tiller Racing makes regular farm fun look flaccid, a game which is more diverting than either nine pins or bocci, though nothing can really impact Circular Field
Archery. Yet coverage remains incredibly poor and nary a wench is made available to drape her assets where they are needed for bringing attention to
these neglected offerings.
"But we've got hockey, baseball and football," responded a cunning inebriate to me whilst thrusting a dart into the wall at a tavern where I was conducting a survey.
What about a game in which the participants rarely survive? There actually was a game foolishly bypassed for vicious fan exploitation, media fat-bucks and stadium bloat expansion. It seems that the moguls entirely overlooked the possibilities with this one. Aztec basketball or Bludquiche is referred to in a multitude of widely dispersed, chopped up frescoes throughout Central and South America. Yet it appears in no magazine, never warranted a billboard and has even eluded Internet scrutiny.
The idea here was to catch the ball with the head or groin and 'unkh' it into a stone hoop or death well. One could also pass the ball to a teammate angling wildly for the tiny hole, sans javelin repellants or mace avoiding shields. A
quarter of an inch of rim play was apparently sufficient. For the virile and skulled, the ball seems to have weighed eight pounds, constructed of hard oximetl, a gum-like substance with a smooth, slippery texture. Anyone outliving a caught pass could readily score. Missing the hoop twice in succession incurred the deadly Bajakettle, the cloven head penalty. Outscoring one's opponent won the prized ceremonial skin flay or Filletgumbol, replete with rousing songs and plumaged dance costumes. Losing relegated one to the dismal demise of unaccompanied condor dismemberment. How is it the frogs and chamaeleons have missed out on that?
Himalayan polo, resurfaced 150 years ago as Afghan Buttekaput and subsequently in tamer variants. The original bloodletting involved orb swatting with heinous thrusts and feints whilst mounted on a dagger shod, poison cleated equine. Falling appears to have been superfluous. The ball was the freshly severed head of the team captain's worst enemy, often a person who possessed shoes. The sphere was tightly wrapped in woven yak skin, butchery being the lone prerequisite for play. Whilst poking, smashing or carrying the leaking bundle toward the goal, one was permitted to remove obstacles by scimitar, be they opponents or inappropriately positioned fans. Ice hockey and curling beware.
Diggerydon't or aboriginal surf gauntleting deserves mention. I refer to the contest whereby the prospective engulfee swims out from the beach to mount a scented, anchored log, one designed to attract great white sharks and other saline carnivores. Unfortunately, I have yet to witness a successful culmination of this activity from the human perspective, although there is a rock carving
depicting an ancient, limbless winner. Again no coverage, nary a column nor a remark from a plethora of uninformed commentators.
In Calcutta Prigalemthok, a game which translates from the sanskrit as devoured, qualifies as intriguing. Traditionally the gamesters carry their
unwillingness to harm any of earth's creatures, other than themselves, to spectacular fruition. Piles of insects, vermin and snakes are heaped upon each contestant, ostensibly to discover who will be the first to succumb and with what percentage of agony. Mysteriously, wagering is frowned upon and it is here that one realizes that pure sport and money simply confuse the issue. For some reason, once dollars are thrown into the mix, the eager participants become proportionately less dramatic and inspiring. Not so in the Pakistani version, which includes the deliberate swallowing of provoked scorpions. Of course, there are no long-legged, blue-eyed, highly non-literate observers present to disseminate their vapid views of such awesome play.
In Hawaii, WoaLoa, was practiced until 1950. Outrunning lava flow has never been successfully taped. In Norway, however, a record of the Sturmithon survives, whereby a contestant swam through an active whirlpool, observed in its entirety by a freezing, underwater VCR buff who subsequently perished. In Mexico, at the Sierra Mierde, Juan Topisco, whilst intoxicated, was actually filmed during an historic quake-ride walking a straight line, though the report was
either purchased or confiscated by the local station. The lack of opportunism seems almost conspiratorial considering the possibilities.
There was Genitalicum as played by the Amazons prior to being permitted marriage. It would have faded into obscurity were it not for a recent find. Organs tend to shrivel their attributes unless carved into a cave wall. I marvel at the
hieroglyphs. The bowlegged praiseworthy herself, Onaclitte, alleges to have collected twenty sets to endow her ceremony with status and remembrance. I must admit to a slight trembling during translation, yet it prepared me for the
Etruscan tomb slab which followed. Those women participated in a more refined version of the game, adorning themselves with penile earrings and bracelets.
Women traditionally elect less overtly brutal games than men. Males tend to equate with raping, pillaging and burning. Females prefer pillowing and flowery subterfuge, discreet confusion, indirect rape, ritual coitus and wild, festive debauchery, although Lacrosse doesn't really fit that pattern except in college. Again, women opt for placid themes, especially when they are not competing against males as in badminton. Gonadminton, from the Azores, is a relic where
the remnants of angry Canary Islander women relieve their frustrations with screaming swats and squats in pursuit of the elusive birdie. Too, Chinese female ping pong retains elements of raucous indelicacy. Then there is female tennis, once pastoral and slow until the 100 mph serve was introduced by modern Amazons in tribute to something anal which is also mostly uncovered.
I would have thought the suppository people would have cashed in on that.
Consider the Scottish game of Tipping, whereby the prospective herniac seeks to overturn a massive phallus. Women simply do not have anything like that, perhaps explaining the origin of penis envy. Ergo, they developed insidious
sidelines that strike me as being profound in their implications. Cheerleading, for example, is a practice I've traced to the Greek marathon where teams of women urged their menfolk to persist in spite of obstacles, a game developed by
Clytemnestra. It is the first recorded conjugal threat and completely misread as the precursor of today's inelegant, mud wrestling contests, big Bertha promoters and their less savory derivative, Little League team moms.
Not to be outdone, the male predilection for vociferous coaching has equally developed, especially where it concerns injured or comatose players. Roman pugilism, discussed by Pliny in his treatise on amphitheater execution trends, Thrustum Decorum, describes how to select hand weights, smooth, grilled or spiked, depending upon the executionee's head size, thickness and contour. Too, he delineates specific gouges, slices and hackings common to sword and trident. The scholar details not only the expected gore and flow, but a variety of feeble gesticulations from the dying opponent, the first to record that the show is
more relevant than the blow. It is in Josephus' work that we find references to coaching exhortations, whereby a failed suggestion is rated by the crowd.
Positions were often exchanged, whereby the coach traded places with the executionee, a feature sadly lacking today.
Blade recipients, regardless of ham string, groin pull or part severing, were expected to expire magnificently, demonstrating a panorama of point generating writhes, groans and spasms, thereby encouraging bets. Things like headaches, sniffles, psychological pressure and ligament damage went unrecognized, even rotator cuff injuries and spinal breakages. One was not permitted a delay as it
might turn the fans against management. Rematches were non-existant as the agents raked in their inexhaustible farm talent.
Sponge, lobster, pearl and conch diving are well known but I cannot fish out any details on the whispered Cuban Sargasso Plongo. Equally mysterious are Washington State's Orca Bait Fete and Yemen's strange festival of Drechtmal or sand burrowing whereby the participants are buried, their emergence timed to the bursting of fragile air sacks at the passing of a camel. Then there is the
Easter Island indigenous Oli Moli, a bridegroom requirement, where the male must fetch a ripe wanket for his spouse prior to sanctioned consummation. Wankets are the favorite food of the obstreperous Poruguese Man O' War.
Manatee Saddling had its adherents in Florida when the Seminoles reigned. Ostrich Mounting once predominated in South Africa, though according to one Boer reference, no one was able to adequately dismount the fickle birds. Also
from South Africa, the extinct sport of Rhino breaking or Krotchveldt has been documented with a beautiful painting, showing the rhino's interesting habit of tossing riders forward. I do not blame your ignorance of these glorious offerings, but the missed revenue seems unconscionable. Therefore, let me issue a challenge directly to the networks by describing three worthy, exquisite games
waiting for destiny to bring them into your homes.
Ratracan is known posthumously as imported Polynesian Capybara Racing. Eight to twelve of the enormous rodents are aligned at the gate and made to salivate before the oval track by observing the shill, a taunting, insult-laden monkey or parrot. Since shills are rarely captured, the rats tend to give up and gnaw at the spectators and stands, making win, place and show a difficult proposition. Its Sumatran variant, Kimodocan, though more spectacular and visually graphic, suffers due to the lack of sustainable jockeys, gate men or trainers though I'm sure an infusion of megabucks could make it viable.
Sadaamiz from Iraq involves sticking it up the well for a timely blowout. Toasting the opposition is not new, of course, but the field is wide open for
expansion and incandescence. Its variant, Napalmbolle, descends from the Roman art of catapulting Greek fire on helpless naval vessels. Especially noteworthy is the new technique of Chimneydrops, the deliberate targeting of
tiny enclosures with the game ball launched from great distances. Clearly the PC people could do something legendary with these.
If there is one game that fibrillates somewhat more than the others, it is that practiced and secreted from humanity by a small group of hardy folk, sturdy examples of wit, precision and endurance. I'm talking about Wipe and asking its
adherents in advance to forgive my revelation. The game is a byproduct of pole vaulting but its resemblance stops with the name. It does not intrigue the observer on film. One must be ensconced at a site, often a future ski slope of
American entrepreneurial genius. I allude to the open waste treatment plants, dumps and barges that gaudily adorn and grace our lands and waterways.
Had I not actually witnessed the manure enthusiasts leaping for height and distance amidst the mounds, I scarcely could have believed my eyes or nasal reaction. Retrieval tactics, for those who become stuck in the muck from an errant wipe is magical. These luminaries are pure sports figures, shunning monetary reward, notoriety and common sense with equal aplomb, not to mention olfactory survival. If we have made a dent against the past master strategies, this is the one that defines gamesmanship and defies corporate
tactical skill to reek further havoc with its endlessly self serving investments.