Participating in or watching athletes compete in sporting events has been popular since ancient times. With the exception of some modifications, many current-day sports date back centuries. But, while baseball, basketball, football, hockey and horseracing are familiar, there are a few unique sporting events that are lesser well known.
Donning snorkelling gear, teams of ten athletes play the traditional sport of hockey at the bottom of swimming pools. Using a one-foot stick, players attempt to push a three-pound puck across the pool floor in hopes of flicking the object into the opponent’s goal. Players hold their breath as long as possible during gameplay. While players may surface to catch a breath of air, only six are allowed to actively play at any given time. The sport originated in 1954 in order for members of the British diving club to remain active and fit during the winter months.
The sport is pronounced fiel-lep-en and combines pole vaulting and long jumping. However, the object is not to cross over a high beam. Instead, participants must cross over a canal. Each athlete begins the sport by taking a running leap at a pole leaning on the end of a dock. The other end of the pole is firmly attached to the bottom of a canal. Once the athlete grabs the pole, they shimmy as far upward as possible as the pole bends to the other side. As the pole reaches the opposite shore, athletes leap as far as they can onto a sandpit. Their jumps are measured and scored. The world record leap is 22.21 meters. The sport evolved from necessity. For centuries, Dutch farmers used Fierljeppen to cross canals to save time. The activity became a sport in the 18th century.
The sport is a violent rendition of capture the flag. Two teams of 150 players each fight to topple the opponent’s pole. Half of the team surrounds and defends their 10 to 16-foot tall pole on which a player sits. The other half of each team battles with the ground forces to topple the pole. The player on each pole kicks and battles to keep opponents from gaining a stronghold. The sport was thought to have originated during the 1940s as training for military cadets.