In a society that invests more money paying professional athletes than it does most other workers, sports like extreme ironing, inner tube water polo and shin kicking may hold cryptic identities. Mass media presents a very limited perspective of the unique sports many different cultures have invented.
Inner tube water polo was designed to eliminate the rough physical aspect of conventional water polo. As the name states, the sport is played while afloat on inner tubes, but otherwise follows conventional water polo rules.
“[Inner tube water polo] could be best analogized as bowling with bumpers,” science teacher and waterpolo coach Michael Heberle said. “I’ve played it mainly to have fun.”
Extreme ironing is a sport that combines a common household chore with remote locations to create a unique experience that is paralleled by few other sports. Some of the locations where this sport is practiced include the tops of mountains, in midair (while skydiving), under the sea, in dark caves, while base jumping, and even on the backs of moving vehicles.
The extreme ironing movement has even gone so far as to hold organized world championships.
Extreme ironing was created by British citizen Phil Shaw, who wanted to combine his job at a knitwear factory and rock climbing to create his very own extreme sport. The sport experienced incredible popularity in European countries and even extended its reaches to North America in the form of bungee ironing which is considered by many “ironists” to be the pinnacle of the sport.
“Extreme ironing seems sort of weirdly thrilling,” senior Mason Moreno said. “I’d try it once or twice if I could.”
Dating as far back as the 17th century the sport of shin kicking is possibly the weirdest and most idiosyncratic sport ever played. Shin kicking is played exactly as its name suggests; kick opponents in the shins until they can be thrown to the ground.
Competitions are observed by a referee called the “stickler” who determines if a match is fairly won. Emergency response teams are always on standby in case of serious injury.
Shins are padded with common straw stuffed into the player’s socks and soft toed shoes are worn during competitions.
Shin kicking takes its origins from Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olimpick Games in England where other sports such as horse racing, dancing, and sledge hammer throwing were also practiced. During the dawn of the sport contestants were known to train their shins with hammer, stones and steel-toed shoes and boots.
“Since there isn’t any tissue in the shins to absorb the shock, the kick would land right on the bone, straw covering or not,” senior Marvin Gromia said. “I wouldn’t recommend this sport to anyone.”
There will always be people like Jackie Robinson who revolutionize the face of the sport they play, and likewise there will always be people like Phil Shaw who create something entirely different as the result of what may seem to be silly experimentation. The realm of creativity is not limited by the perception of popularity.