With football season in full swing, America’s favorite odd-shaped ball—the football—is dangling at the forefront of televised entertainment around the nation. But even in its less-than-spherical glory, the pigskin has nothing on the three strange-shaped “balls” below, which have all found their way into sports that seem somehow familiar…
The Ball: A Keg of Beer
The Sport: Bottle-Kicking
Most Closely Resembles: Rugby
The Objective: Each team, traditionally made up of townspeople from the neighboring English villages of Hallaton and Medbourne, attempts to move a keg of beer, on a best-of-three basis, across the opposing team’s stream (the two villages happen to have streams that are a mile apart). The hard part? There are virtually no rules—aside from no eye-gouging, no strangling and no use of weapons—meaning much of the contest is a whirling dervish of fists, kicks and tackles. In the end it’s all worth it, though, because the winning team goes home with the keg and its yeasty contents, while the losers head to the pub to drink away their misery.
The Ball: Haggis (a traditional Scottish dish consisting of boiled sheep’s heart, lungs and liver mixed with spices, onion, suet, oatmeal and stock, stuffed into a sheep’s stomach).
The Sport: Haggis Hurling
Most Closely Resembles: Shot put
The Objective: Players attempt to throw the haggis—which must be cooked and of a predetermined weight—as far and as accurately as possible from atop a heightened platform (traditionally a whiskey barrel). The catch is that the haggis absolutely must remain edible—that is, intact—upon contact with the ground, or else you’ll be disqualified. That’s why each and every haggis is inspected before it’s tossed—to ensure that it hasn’t been slathered in firming agents. Who knew a firm haggis was a bad thing?
The Ball: A Goat Carcass
The Sport: Buzkashi
Most Closely Resembles: Polo
The Objective: While the rules vary depending on where you are, the game has been standardized by the Afghan Olympic Federation as such: A goat’s body is placed at one end of the field, where horse-mounted players scrum—using their whips to fend off other horses and their riders—to grab ahold of the carcass. The player that breaks free with it must then circle around a marker on the opposite side of the field and drop the body into a scoring circle by any means possible, whether that be injuring other riders, knocking over horses or even trampling spectators. It’s not a game for the faint of heart—indeed, any American less than Rambo himself should think twice before asking to participate.