We’ve just entered into the Bonneville Salt Flats of the sports season.
Yes, for the next month and a half the sporting word will be dry, flat, and seemingly endless.
March Madness is a distant memory, the NBA finals are history, the Stanley Cup playoffs are over, some horse won the Triple Crown; the Masters, the U.S. Open and the British Open are in the books; Wimbledon is done, and the World Cup finally ended.
So, what’s left to us until late August? Regular season baseball and the WNBA. Oh, be still, my pounding heart.
It’s a tough time of year for ESPN when it comes to televised competition. Then again, if watching five zombies play poker on TV is your idea of a riveting spectator sport then I have good news for you because there is additional programming available to you this summer that rivals the thrill of watching paint dry.
The World Stone Skimming Championships draws side-armed slingers from all over the world with plenty of time on their hands to the competition on Easdale Island in Scotland. Only stones made from local Easdale slate are used and the skimmer winner with the longest skim takes home a big cash prize of zero dollars.
The Mobile Phone Throwing Championships is held each August in Savonlinna, Finland. Mobile phone throwing is described on the sport’s official website as a “light and modern Finnish sport” that combines the passion and frustration that we have for our phones. (I have an idea: how about combining this with the stone skimming championships for The iPhone Lake Skimming and Toilet Dunking Championships. The victor wins a lifetime supply of dry rice.)
If you prefer some soft brutality in your summer-slump sports, look no further than the World Pillow Fighting Championships in Rohnert Park California. The annual summer championships require that each contestant hold a wet feather pillow in one hand, sit along the pole suspended over a pit of mud, and swing the pillow until you manage to topple your opponent into the mud below. This is the pillow fight you always wanted to have but your mother wouldn’t allow after that night you knocked your little brother unconscious by slipping several grapefruits into the bottom of your pillowcase.
A variation of mixed doubles in tennis is The Wife Carrying World Championships held annually in Sonkajarvi, Finland. (Yes, it appears that Finland has a dominant hold on odd sports.) The 275-yard sand track in features two land obstacles and one water obstacle to cover while the man carries his partner in his arms or on his back, although the Estonian Carry — where the wife hangs upside-down with her legs around her partners shoulders, holding onto his waist — is the most popular.
She must, however, meet a minimum weight requirement of 108 pounds. (Men, just in case you are reading this column aloud to your wife, this would be a good place to NOT make any comment about weight or carrying your wife the length of almost three football fields. Just quickly move on in your reading to the next sporting event below.)
So, here’s some heated competition you don’t want to miss. The World Sauna Championships are an annual endurance contest held in … no, not again. Seriously?
Yes, Finland, in the town of Heinola. What is it with these Finns? Do they just sit around and think up strange contests to fill in the time before/after hockey season?
Contestants sit in a sauna with a starting temperature of 110 degrees. The last person who has not baked to a crisp or boiled to death in his own sweat is declared the winner.
Some of my favorite rules include:
- At various times the judges may request that contestants give a thumbs-up to indicate that they are alive and have at least minimal brain function and comprehension. (I’d say their brain function was questionable when they signed up for this event.)
- Contestants must leave the sauna “unaided” for their time to qualify. (In other words, being carried out on a stretcher by paramedics and rushed by ambulance to the hospital can get you disqualified.)
- Use of alcohol is prohibited before and during competition. (You mean that people must actually do this completely sober?)
I have questions about not only the sanity of the competitors but what in Helsinki makes a person pay to be a spectator at a human bake-off? And what kind of sport involves just sitting silently in a chair while trying to endure suffering? Oh yeah, that describes televised poker. I wonder if Finland knows about that.