By Brynn Sherbert, Feb. 23, 2021
When one thinks of sports – baseball, football and basketball might come to mind, not Spikeball, cheese-rolling or racquetball. However, there are many innovative and unique sports played competitively everyday around the world.
Spikeball is a sport similar to volleyball that equips a small rubber ball and an elastic net stretched over a plastic rim. Teams can make contact with the ball three times for a bump, set or spike. To score, players hit a shot that the other team is unable to return.
The sport has grown to headline tournaments all over the United States. Headquartered in Chicago, Spikeball has more than 4 million players worldwide. Jeff Knurek, the sport’s inventor, marketed the game through a Japanese entertainment company to grow its popularity.
Sophomore women’s soccer defender Madyson Bennet plays Spikeball often with her friends and family during summers at the beach.
“Spikeball is fun and it is an alternative for a workout. It is very unique and is a game to play with friends and family,” said Bennet.
Ultimate frisbee is a non-contact, self-refereed team sport with a flying disc. It is now played internationally, but originated in Maplewood, New Jersey.
In 1968, Joel Silver introduced his idea of ultimate frisbee to the Columbia High School student council. It is now played in more than 80 countries among an estimated 7 million players.
Two teams of seven compete on a field the size of a football field. A point is scored when one team catches the disc in the opposing team’s end zone. The team with the most points at the end of the game is declared the winner.
Sophomore men’s track and field hurdler Derek Porter said, “I think ultimate frisbee is fun, interactive and competitive. This game can teach individuals a lot about teamwork as well as accountability. Not only does it teach people skills, it helps them become healthier too.”
Today there are more than 20 million people worldwide competing in racquetball. In the 1970s racquetball was the fastest-growing sport in America. The sport then expanded internationally and is played by all ages.
Racquetball was invented by Joseph Sobek who founded the International Racquetball Association. The first world championship was held in 1981 and has been held every two years since. The game is similar to American handball and squash. Racquetball is played with a hollow rubber ball and a stringed racquet. The objective of the game is to win each rally by serving or returning the ball, so the opponent is unable to keep the ball in play. Racquetball can be played in nearby gyms and facilities.
Chess boxing is a hybrid sport that combines chess and boxing. Chess boxing was invented in France by Iepe Rubingh as an art performance and has grown into a competitive sport. It is now known to be popular in Germany, the United Kingdom, India and Russia. There are 11 rounds in the game and players alternate between boxing and chess. The boxing rounds last three minutes and chess rounds last four minutes. To win the game, a participant needs to win a knockout or a checkmate.
Cricket originated as a children’s game in the 1700s where it evolved into a game that is now played by all ages. Cricket is most popular in India and is played internationally. The sport is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players. Teams bat in successive innings and attempt to score runs, while the opposing team fields and attempts to end the batting team’s innings. The concept of cricket is very similar to baseball.
Cheese-rolling was created to represent the beginning of the New Year and has existed since the 1800’s, attracting thousands of spectators. It is an annual popular sport event that is held in Gloucester, England, with winners coming from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Nepal.
Ten to 40 people launch themselves off a steep 200-yard-long hill chasing after a 7 to 9-pound Gloucester cheese. The first person to cross the finish line at the bottom of the hill wins the cheese.
Freshman men’s soccer midfielder Harrison Cliff is an international student from Redding, England, who has spectated a cheese-rolling competition.
“Believe it or not, people travel from all over the world to where I am from in England to compete in cheese-rolling,” Cliff said. “It is something I have never tried and I do not intend on trying it either but it interesting to watch people from all over come to England to compete.”
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