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Baseball is generally named as "the American national pastime", but American football presently has the largest number of viewers, with NASCAR (stock car racing), long popular in the southeastern states, rapidly becoming popular nationwide. Basketball is popular among the young, urban population. Football, known as Soccer in the U.S, is popular with the young, suburban population. The rise of soccer's popularity with children in suburbs have created a political demographic known as the "Soccer mom". Ice Hockey was once very popular in the Northeast, Midwest as well as with Southeastern immigrants from those regions and Canada. However, the popularity of Ice Hockey appears to be waning in recent years.

Pastimes and sports is a phrase that covers an awful lot of ground. Sports are recreational or competitive activities involving some amount of physical strength or skill. Throughout history, man has played games primarily as a means to meet socially with others, to display skills and physical prowess, and to entertain or offer excitement. At one time, sports were commonly considered to include only the outdoor recreational pastimes, such as fishing, shooting, and hunting, as opposed to games, which were regarded as organized athletic contests played by teams or individuals according to prescribed rules. The distinction between sports and games has blurred, and the two terms are now often used interchangeably.

Team sport refers to sports which are practiced between opposing teams, where the players interact directly and simultaneously between them to achieve the objective, such as football (in its various forms), cricket, baseball, handball, hockey, basketball or volleyball. The term is used to distinguish itself from individual sports which are based on one-on-one direct confrontation (such as most raquet sports, boxing or Martial arts) or timed races (such as athletics or swimming).

The concept of "Danger" in sport is very difficult to quantify and anyone attempting to study sports injuries needs to give this matter very careful consideration. In field games like rugby, soccer, football, hurling, and hockey, knocks and bangs are extremely common. So are pulled muscles and sprains of joints. The horse rider is largely immune from such trauma being isolated from other individuals, well out of the way, on top of the horse. But if he or she is thrown off at high speed the consequences are often very serious. Thus although the risk of minor injury is lower in equestrian activities than in field games, the possibility of serious injury and death is much higher.

Some injuries occur almost instantaneously. Fractures, sprains, and strains (pulled muscles) are examples. One minute the athlete is in top form: the next he or she is bunched up in agony on the ground. Such conditions are known as acute injuries. These are the most well-known conditions. Less dramatic and much less well-known, but just as important, are overuse injuries. These conditions come on gradually, as a result of repeating an action over-and-over again.

Extrinsic factors are external to the injured person: things like uneven playing surfaces, faulty equipment, bad weather, poor rules, foul play by an opponent, bad lighting or poor acoustics. Sports persons in school generally have less control over extrinsic factors than intrinsic ones. Even so they should avoid obvious dangers as much as possible. Intrinsic factors are ones that are characteristics of the person who is injured.

All of this goes to show that we are not sensible, either as fans or participants. As Friedrich Nietzsche, the German Philosopher (1844-1900) once said: The man loves danger and sport. That is why he loves woman, the most dangerous of all sports.

While non-contact sports do not as often cause injuries, there are still risks. The tennis player who puts a twist in his or her stroke is as likely as a baseball pitcher to develop tendinitis ("tennis elbow"). Twisted and strained knees are common in tennis. But this sports boasts, along with swimming, one of the lowest rates of serious injury. Tennis players can often avoid even minor injuries with a conscientious program of stretching and conditioning. The ever-present water bottle and rest in a shaded area between matches are as important in tennis as in other warm weather sports.

Biking has the position in the sports world of sharing roads with automobiles. Bikes are required to follow the same traffic rules as cars. If running in the street, beware cars. Run toward traffic and know the rules of the road. Mostly, do not run on a road at night. Running on cement sidewalks is a sure way to have leg pain the next day.

Two types of aggression have been defined in sports, hostile and instrumental. Hostile aggression has the sole intention of inflicting harm on a person. Instrumental aggression intentionally causes injury or harm to an opponent in pursuit of another goal such as scoring or winning. Assertiveness is different from aggressiveness in that it is the nonhostile, noncoercive tendency to behave with intense and energetic behavior to accomplish one's goal.

In the sport world, this type of behavior is often within the rules of competition. It is hard to distinguish between aggression and assertion because they are often confused in the literature of the game, and can usually only be differentiated by a person's intention, which remains dependent on self-report.

Aggression has been examined in different sport types (e.g., contact vs. non-contact and individual vs. team). Sports with contact have positive associations with the amount of aggressiveness of their participants. There are three distinct levels of contact sports: collision (contact is necessary and integral to play), contact (contact is legal and occurs incidentally), and non-contact (contact between opponents is not allowed).

Sports which enjoy a perception of a lower level of violence are seen to offer the most appropriate role models. However, some are offended by the "celebrity" type lifestyles of some of these sportspeople, rejecting any behaviours which display excessive wealth. A good role model was defined as having the following characteristics: doesn't misbehave, on or off the field; outstanding performer -€" performance to aspire to; positive media profile.

Role models are more likely to come from individual sports, and participants believe this was because of a lack of "group behaviour" which is often given as a reason for poor behaviour in team sports. Similarly, good role models are more likely to come from non-contact sports where there is less opportunity for on-field aggression and violence.

The idea that competitive sports provide effective means for promoting character has been around for a long time, at least since the Ancient Greeks. In modern history, the British boarding schools of the nineteenth century gave new impetus to this theme. Believing that muscles and morals develop simultaneously through involvement in sports, these schools' administrators encouraged or required their students to participate in competitive athletics. The idea soon crossed the Atlantic and became popular in U.S. culture. Sport builds character became a popular cultural saying.

Despite all the various shapes and sizes of sports, there are certain commonalities that can be used to advantage. For example, in all competitive sports, participants will experience some temptation to deviate from rules to gain advantage. All sports provide an opportunity to pursue excellence, both of physical performance and character. All sports provide an opportunity to pursue excellence, both of physical performance and character, where growth is stimulated through encouragement, challenge, and support.

Bone-crunching! Rib-cracking! Hernia-inducing! Three adjectives that will never be used to describe these sports. You’ll need to check your balls at the gate just to watch these games—let alone to play. You can get hurt playing football, baseball, hockey—and don’t even start with lacrosse. Those big sticks scare the skirts off us! But, thankfully, for those of us whose athleticism is surpassed only by a freshly shampooed poodle’s, there exist sports so pathetic that we’re afraid to tell you about them for fear of tainting our own tenuous reputations. But dammit! We’ve got to play something, and really, a jock is a jock—even if the sport requires nothing more than kneesocks and a kite. So, as a service to you, we’ve assembled the lamest, most pussified activities ever and presented them in all their wussy glory. Now you can be an athlete, too—without even working up a sweat.

How to Make Any Sport Wussy

Rugby
Instead of dangerous scrums, use the rock-paper-scissors method to determine who gets the ball. And wear sweats with footsies.

Basketball
Be nice, and take turns shooting the ball.

Football
The ball? Round. The field? Water. The name? Water polo.

Hockey
Play on grass with a kickball. Plus: Tie a windbreaker around your waist. It could get chilly. Hmmm…perhaps you should play indoors.

Mountain Biking
When going down hills, scream, “Wheeeee!”

Racquetball
Keep the rules. But you get a box of Juicy Juice between sets.

Conkers involves one guy holding a horse chestnut on a string while another guy takes three whacks at it with his own strung-up nut. Then they switch until one of their conkers breaks or one of them dies of boredom. It might sound innocuous, but as with any pro sport, there is a criminal element. Says British champ Charlie Bray, “There are many underhanded ways of making your conker harder. The best is to pass it through a pig. The conker will harden by soaking in its stomach juices. Then you search through the pig’s waste to find the conker.” Basically, it’s a game for children. Or for grown men who have yet to lose touch with the child within. In other words, shut-ins.

We’d go over the rules, but what’s the point? Although Heathers would have you believe differently, the average croquet player isn’t a 17-year-old vixen with a penchant for murder. The average player is more like a middle-aged Brit with a penchant for tweed. The chances of me being chased through malls by hordes of teenage girls? Approximately nil.”

Finally, a combination of man’s two greatest passions: shuffleboard and housework. Teams push stones across ice while the sweeper (or skip) brushes the ice in front of the stone, trying to maneuver it closest to the scoring area and…hey, wake up! Curling somehow made it to the Olympic roster in 1998 and is played by 1.5 million curlers—one million in Canada alone. Very alone.

Kabaddi is a cross between tag and primal-scream therapy. A seven-man squad sends a “raider” into the opponents’ half of the field, chanting the strange word kabaddi continuously without drawing a breath. He touches as many opposing players as possible to get them “out” before returning to his side—still without breathing. The opposition tries to hold him (or, in some variations, sit on the raider’s face) until he takes a breath—or suffers brain damage—rendering him out. Bizarrely, an estimated 100,000 play in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Japan and northern England. Of these, an estimated 99,990 have never seen a naked woman. It’s also known as hu-tu-tu, kapati, do-do-do, bhadi-bhadi, saunchi-pakki, zabar and Eugene.

Invented in 1992 by dumb kids waiting for pizza, Danball challenges its players to use Dansticks (sawed-off oars, makeshift paddles or aluminum bats) to drive a plastic ball across the opposing team’s goal line. It’s like field hockey without the net or the kicky plaid skirts. That’s it for the rules. Oh, and this one: Says Donovan Rogers of the prestigious Central Texas League (there are seven leagues worldwide), “You have to order pizza, and the name of the game for the night is the name of the delivery person. So you could have Debbieball one night and Danball the next.”

Cram your gob with chew. Work up some phlegm. Then heave like a homeless guy with emphysema. Congratulations, you’re a professional tobacco spitter! Work on your distance and accuracy, keeping in mind that the spit must be at least the size of a dime to score. With enough practice, you may become the next George Craft, the Loogie Gehrig of spittin’, who retired at 75 after holding 14 records, including a 30-foot claim!

Foot Bagging is where more than 20 million bipedal losers juggle beanbags with their feet. In freestyle contests, players kick the bag around and are awarded points based on variety, difficulty, choreography and the volume of bong water spilled. Lame variations: Footbag net (players kick the bag over a badminton net), footbag golf (players traverse a golf course) and footbag 1.0 (players’ GPAs get them kicked out of school).

Participants push a three-wheeled banana-shaped yacht until the wind picks up, then lie on their backs and have the wind carry them off. The lemon twist in this namby-pamby cocktail? Events are often canceled because it’s too windy. Sand yachting supposedly originated in ancient Egypt with a primitive form of boat that was discovered in a pharaoh’s tomb. There’s some doubt to its authenticity, however, because the word Oldsmobile is prominently engraved on the deck. Admittedly, it’s not a great spectator sport. It’s a case of ‘Here comes the first yacht’ and ‘There goes the first yacht.’

The Wide World of Wuss. Stuff Magazine has ceased publication with the October 2007 issue. Stuff will now be a regular section within Maxim [Print + Kindle] .


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