Quirks & Curiosities of the Sporting World

Erm… Yorkshire puddings are part of a sport? Photo by Dale Cruse, Attribution CC BY 2.0

There are a myriad of reasons to love sport. For some of us it’s the electricity of a stadium full of fans, for others it’s the tension of a nail biting photo finish, for the rest of us, maybe its the funny bits? When people are performing at their peak, it’s important to bring some levity to the game. Whether it’s funny nicknames, bizarre traditions or just downright strange goings on, there are plenty of things to get us giggling when it comes to sport.

Beefy Botham

You can rely on the Brits to come up with a silly sporting nickname and Ian Botham, one of England’s most famous cricketers did not get away unnamed! Known as ‘Beefy’ by the crowds, this cricketer picked up his name likely because of his stout and broad frame. Some kinder folks say that it might be because of his bullish playing technique, but we’ll leave that to you to decide. Fortunately for Botham, this bovine nickname was the one that stuck, the alternative that never quite caught on was ‘Bungalow’, which is slightly less becoming.

Fans Throwing Fish

This one really is a weird one! The University of New Hampshire have a truly bizarre tradition, whereby once the first goal of the ice hockey match is scored, a fish is thrown onto the ice. This tradition began back in the 70s and is still a source of hilarity to the supporters. It’s debatable where exactly the tradition arose, with two stories being the most popular. Nobody disputes that the fish was thrown in the early 1970s, but exactly why is up for discussion.

Bob Norton, a former UNH coach says the fans threw out a tiny fish onto the ice when playing against a poorer team, as a way of saying they ‘weren’t worthy of first rate fish’. Other fans say that it was started by fraternity boys as a way of telling the opposing team to ‘fish the puck out of the net’ once the opening goal was scored. Either way its pretty funny, unless you’re the fish of course!

Black Pudding Hurling

This is one sport that Americans definitely won’t have heard of, in fact it’s a sport that only people from the English counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire will have heard of. Although it’s an obscure one, we simply had to include it!

A bit of essential terminology first. Black pudding is a sausage made from pigs blood and fat (it sounds disgusting, but many people actually find it delicious!). Yorkshire pudding is a spongey cup shaped accompaniment to a roast dinner, made with a batter of eggs, flour and milk, think of it kind of like a waffle meets a biscuit.

Every year in September the Black Pudding Hurl is held in Bury. Contestants from either the Yorkshire team or the Lancashire team attempt to knock as many Yorkshire puddings off a 20 foot high plinth as possible by throwing black pudding at them. It sounds hilarious because it is! The longstanding Yorkshire/Lancashire rivalry is no joke though.

Wife Carrying

The tricky to master Estonian Lift Photo by Peter Oeleshlaeger, Attribution CC BY 2.0

In the cold weathers of Scandinavia, you’ve got to find some kind of exercise to keep warm. Wife Carrying originated in Finland and the world championships are still held in Sonkajärvi each year. Originally the sport involved a husband and wife team, but now the rules are less strict, allowing unmarried teams to enter.

The male teammate must negotiate an obstacle course of two dry obstacles and one water obstacle of at least a metre deep. As though this wasn’t enough of a challenge, he must do all of this, whilst carrying his female teammate, who must way a minimum of 49kg. The ‘wife’ may be carried in any style, including the popular fireman’s lift and the piggyback, but perhaps the most popular amongst the medal winners is the ‘Estonian Style’ where she lies upside down against the back with her legs over the neck and shoulders.

As well as bragging rights forever, the winners also win the wife’s weight in beer – not bad.

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