I was having a conversation with Bryan earlier today that led to the idea for this post. I said something about how schleuderball might be the best sport ever and it got me thinking about which sports are my favorites. My top four were pretty easy to pick but the fifth was a bit harder to decide on. One of them is the most popular sport in the country, one is hardly played at all in America, one is probably the least heard of sport in the world, one a lot of people have never even tried, and the last one is only a popular spectator sport every four years. Most people who read this blog can easily guess at least one of the sports, that being football. I’ve mentioned in previous posts how overwhelming the ratio is between how much I write about football and how much I write about any other sport.
The five sports (in no particular order) are football, track, skiing, schleuderball and the distant fifth is rugby. Football being the most popular in the country, track being the one that’s only popular once every four years, skiing is the one a lot of people have never tried, schleuderball is one of the least heard of sports in the world and rugby is the one barely played in this country.
I love football. I mean I love football. I’m actually listening to this song right now, which is about how sad life is during football’s off season. But I also love track, and I love skiing, and I love schleuderball. Oh yeah, and rugby’s great too. This was originally going to be a post about determining which sport was actually my favorite and how I went about deciding this. Unfortunately I can’t decide which is my favorite so instead I’m going to tell you why I like each one so much and break down which categories I think each one is best in.
We’ll start with football because it’ll be the easiest to explain. In my opinion (and I know Bryan will argue this) football is the best spectator sport. I could watch football all day, every day. Heck, during the season that’s all I do on Saturdays and Sundays… and Monday nights… and sometimes on Thursday. I love football so much that I do stuff like this and this… and this and this… and this and this… you get the idea. Football is the ultimate team sport. With 11 players on the field at a time for each team and with each player having their own specific role and job, you know that if just one part of system breaks down, then it will impact the rest of the team. A missed blocking assignment, a defensive back gets beat off the line, a receiver runs the wrong route, a punter kicks one off the side of his foot, all of these things both directly and indirectly impact the other players on the team. And of course you get to see plays like the one in the video below.
Let’s address skiing now. To me skiing is a sport that provides a sense of freedom that is unparalleled. You get to the top of a mountain and look out over the scene below and you can’t help but smile. When you point your tips down hill and start moving and feel the sensation of gliding over the surface of the snow, it doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, skiing for your first time or somebody who has been doing it for years, it’s awesome. And of course when you really get going, nothing will start pumping adrenaline through your veins more than flying down the side of a mountain and weaving in and out of trees. I can’t even find the words to capture the feeling that skiing gives me, it’s almost a peaceful intensity or a calm adrenaline rush. Also the possibilities of skiing are limitless. You can ski for recreation, you can back country ski, there is speed skiing, trick skiing, night skiing, heli skiing, alpine skiing, telemark skiing, cross country skiing, you can ski groomed runs, you can ski powder, you can climb to the top of an uncharted mountain and ski down from there. It’s just fantastic, and the level of athleticism required is severely underestimated. Anybody who has ever simply tried to ski in waist deep powder knows exactly what I’m talking about. The lower body strength needed is tremendous, not to mention the concentration, balance and quick reaction time. And of course one of the best parts is that you get people who do stuff like in the video below.
On to track. For those that don’t know me or haven’t read our about us page, track is a sport that holds a special place close to my heart. I ran hurdles in high school and went to nationals in my junior year. I have always said that track and field is the sport that contains the best athletes and it’s a statement that I still stand by today. The things that the runners, jumpers and throwers get their bodies to do is absolutely mind-blowing for me. Take this into consideration for a second, the world record for high jump (held by Javier Sotomayor) is 2.45 meters, which is over eight feet. Think about how high that is, he could jump over Yao Ming with ease. The long jump world record (held by Mike Powell) is 8.95 meters or 29 feet and 4.5 inches. He could almost long jump a for first down in football. Michael Johnson could run over 30 miles per hour. Jonathan Edwards’ triple jump world record is over 60 feet. Randy Barnes could throw a sixteen pound ball over 75 feet. These numbers are mind boggling. And then on top of that you have the decathletes (athletes who compete in decathlons) that do it all, my personal favorite being Dan O’Brien, who I would argue is one of the best athletes of all time. But because it was my event though, hurdles is my favorite event and the lesser-known event, the shuttle hurdle relay is my favorite hurdling event. So the video I’ll show you this time is the world record shuttle hurdle relay race, with my all-time favorite track athlete, Aries Merritt, a Tennessee alum, running the anchor leg.
Moving on to schleuderball. Good ol’ schleuderball. This sport is amazing. Absolutely amazing. I mean anytime there is a sport that involves a hard, 3.3 pound ball that you use a leather strap to throw with and then try to stop it by sacrificing your own body, you know it’s going to be awesome. I explained all about how schleuderball is played in this post so I won’t go over all of that. Instead I will simply tell you why I love it so much. It’s a very fast paced game with a lot of intensity. It also take a lot body control as well as good reaction time on top of needing some serious guts to be willing to jump in front of a 3.3 pound object that somebody just threw as hard as they can. It requires the combination of quickness, endurance, strength and toughness but you also have to use your brain. You have to think about placement on your throws, strategy on shocks and throwing order, knowing who is throwing next for their team, knowing who is throwing next for your team, deciding when it’s worth the risk to try and run up to catch a shock and when it’s better to just recover and get in position on defense. I know that for a large majority of the people who read this, the last paragraph might as well be written in a different language for how much sense it will make, but believe me when I say that it is a crime that this sport isn’t more popular and doesn’t have more recognition. In the video below just skip to the 20 second mark and watch how far that guy can throw and then imagine being on the other end of the field and trying to catch it. You might look at it now and think you can do it, but my money says that if you were actually in the situation you’d probably have to change your pants afterward.
Now rugby is the toughest one for me to explain because it is by far the one I know the least about. This might cause you to ask yourself “how can it be one of your favorite sports if you don’t know very much about it?” and I’d say it’s because I developed a high level of respect for it about a year ago. I had never watched rugby before other than maybe a few clips here and there but definitely never sat down and watched a full game nonetheless actually played the sport. Well last spring I got the opportunity to play rugby a few times and as I mentioned with schleuderball it requires many different athletic skills. I had never realized how fast paced of a game it is and that it isn’t just a bunch of barbaric dudes hitting each other, though it is famously referred to as “the barbarian’s sport played by gentlemen.” You have to be fast, powerful, tough, patient, strategic, and be able to run non stop for the entire time. You always here statistics about how much a midfielder runs on average during a soccer game, but I’d like to see how that compares to a rugby player. I believe it would be one of the wing players that runs the most during a rugby game. I ran cross country for four years, and rugby absolutely exhausted me, and it works so many different muscles. Both the sets of muscles in your legs that you use for distance running and the ones you use for sprints, as well as your upper body and that’s on top of the beating your taking from the other team, without padding mind you. It really is a truly phenomenal sport that I wish were more popular here in the U.S. Speaking of taking a beating from the other team, check out the crushing hits in the video below.
Let me know what your favorite sports are and what you think of my five in the comments below.
Filed under: Extreme Sports, NCAA Football, NFL, Rugby, Schleuderball, Skiing, Track & Field Tagged: | Aries Merritt, Aubrey Herring, Dan O'Brien, David Oliver, decathlon, Field, Football, high jump, hurdles, Javier Sotomayor, Joel Brown, Jonathan Edwards, long jump, Michael Johnson, Michael Jordan, Mike Powell, Randy Barnes, Reggie Bush, Rugby, Schleuderball, Sheldon Brown, shot put, shuttle hurdle relay, Skiing, Track, triple jump, Yao Ming