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Posts Tagged ‘sports’

I like everything about this sport already, since it gives me an excuse to talk about yaks.

Seriously. Yaks! Where do I begin?

 

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Majestic, Majestic Yaks. Photo by Didrik Johnck © 1997

 

I feel about yaks almost what I feel about moose (ultimately, moose win because they have those knobby knees and charmingly absurd expressions). Yaks are shaggy. They’re tough cookies, wandering around mountain passes in the Himalayas.  They also, uh, secrete stuff which the Nepalese use to make magical potions (or, you know, medicine). Butter made from their milk goes into some Tibetan drink known as “butter tea” which I honestly find intriguing and am not disgusted by (also, thank you Wikipedia for teaching me so much about so many silly animals). They also willingly carry humans around, unlike moose. Which means if all goes as planned, one day I may have one for a pet, and I will drink butter tea. Yeah!

But the world of the yak is so much bigger than talking about how awesomely hairy they are, or how getting around in the Himalayas might be nearly impossible without them. These yaks, they let people dress them up and race them! Because that’s what we humans like to do! Put silly costumes on animals and run really fast!

 

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The Yak: A Classic Good Sport

Yep, yaks are real sweethearts. Every now and again at some festival in central Asia, these polite, patient yaks let some dudes dress them up in a fancy costume, jump up on them and race them. Apparently, yaks are pretty speedy. Some people might not think that, since traditionally the yak is portrayed as a beast of burden slowly plowing the field for some farmer, or hauling some people through an icy mountain pass. But when you get the yak out of the office, the wild side comes out. They get rough, these fellas, kicking and pushing all over the place. But it doesn’t stop there. Some of these festivals don’t just have yak racing: they have yak rodeo riding! And yak milking! Really, yak milking! What fun, what joys!

 

It’s a strange world, and I really like it that way.

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Dan Snyder, you are a mean petty man and I am not fond of you. And, since you take taxpayer money to build your stadiums, I think it’s a gross conflict of interest to turn around and have the Redskin franchise donate 50,000 dollars to Robert McDonnell. And, I think you are a jerk. Just to re-iterate.

I love the Redskins. I grew up, well, not. But the first year I really followed football, I followed the Redskins. A passion was born. But long before I loved the Redskins, I was in love with the Saints. Seriously. I fell for them when I was ten years old.

Saints

You Can't Stop These Boys, and This Time I Really Mean it!!!

It was partly because I adore New Orleans and everything about it (except, you know, the devastating poverty, horrible infrastructure, corruption, and racism. But everything else, yeah!). It was partly because the Saints were losers, and I could get into that, especially since they were in a city I loved. Then there was the name: The Saints. Let’s not argue: best team name in the NFL. And the parades! Oh God, the parades. They parade after losses, they parade after wins. New Orleans loves to parade, I love to parade, and I love the Saints.

I’ve been saying since Week One  that this is the Saints year (I have said this before, but rapidly become less adamant about it as I look ridiculous). But I’m losing all restraint now. This is the Saints year. By God, they’ve earned it. Not only do have they passionately dedicated fans, parading all about, as their team repeatedly, well, was less than stellar; not only have they rallied under tremendous (and, sigh, attractive and seemingly liberal) leadership; they have managed to keep their team together under tremendous pressure put upon as their city was slowly disappearing under water. They have played for their city, the city that so passionately adores them, and the city that could always use another opportunity to parade.

I love the Redskins and  the Saints, but I have no problem rooting for the Saints with insane devotion as they will (nearly certainly) defeat the Redskinson December 6th. Maybe Snyder can learn a little bit about what teamwork is all about. Or, at the least, think about what it would be like cheering for a team whose name doesn’t kinda make you wanna vomit.

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I’m sad to report that Estonia has, at long last, taken silver in the Wife-Carrying World Championship.

Nationality Unknown; Awesomeness Certified

Nationality Unknown; Awesomeness Certified

Taisto Miettinen and his wife, Kristiina Haapanene, from Finland, won the annual Wife-Carrying World Championship this week. Miettinen completed the 200 meter course, which includes multiple hurdles, a track, and a pool portion, in 63 seconds.

My Estonians took home the silver after an uninterrupted decade of being the world’s wife-carrying champions.

I won’t worry too much. We’ll be back again.

Let us not forget, though, that wife-carrying does come from a not-too-distant history of, you know, kidnapping and raping women. Mum was taught an adorable song at Estonian camp as a child. Here is a very rough English translation of a sample verse:

The suitors came from the Northern horizon

tra la la la la

You I will take for mine   (point at random girl)

tra la la la la.

behind this seemingly innocent picture, dark deeds may lurk.

behind this seemingly innocent picture, dark deeds may lurk.

Among other sweet Estonian customs, if, at a wedding, a guest stepped on a cow patty, they were automatically invited to the first child’s christening. It seems, during those winter months when everyone was inside drinking themselves into oblivion, that they had lots of time to come up with silly antics. Sometimes I wish I lived in the old country. Except when I see all that blood sausage.

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It’s time for us to turn our eyes to the world of sports once again!

The sport we will be focusing on today has been described as resembling polo. The difference between buzkashi and polo? Whereas polo is played with, ya know, a ball, buzkashi (oh buzkashi, you trixsie!) is played with… a headless goat. Polo also lasts about an hour, and buzkashi can last up to several days. But please don’t let the time frames distract you from what really matters.

Goat Ball

Goat Ball

What really matters is that Buzkashi could, with accuracy, be referred to as “goat ball.” Why?

Because, again, it is played with a decapitated goat.

I don’t want to get into judging other cultures for too many reasons to count. The absurdity of this sport is really the absurdity of any sport: grabbing and chucking something over an imaginary line. In some cases it’s, you know, women, because that’s funny. In most cases it’s a plastic ball. In others, a headless goat. Sports! (Again, Tim and Eric, you are geniuses).

Buzkashi is not yellow ball, diamond bags, or flight wheel. It is actually an incredibly intense game played on horses. It originated in Central Asia (flashbacks of Mongols, anyone?) where the players carry whips in order to beat off other players from the, you know, carcass.

Horses, Goats, Whips.

Horses, Goats, Whips.

Personally, I feel uneasy having displayed this level of awkwardness with Buzkashi. Having seen their skill and dedication, their comfort with whips and their maneuverability, I shall, from now on, be more comfortable with mocking less threatening sports, such as sumo wrestling. Yo boys, when was the last time you got on to the field to chase a dead goat, huh, huh?!

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Why on earth do ESPN and other sport news programs focus so much time on baseball, football, and basketball when there is such a thing as wife carrying?! Outrageous. Wife carrying has a proud and glorious history stretching back to at least the late 1800s when men would run over to a neighboring village in Finland and kidnap some ladies by throwing them on their backs and running away! How very interesting that there is a sport which developed literally from kidnapping women. And yet I am fascinated.

there are many creepy things about all of this.

there are many creepy things about all of this.

The Estonians are apparently the fucking dominators of wife carrying, having won the Finnish world championship every year since 1998. I do not know how I feel about the Estonians dominating this of all sports. I can’t say I’m feeling pride… or can I?

An example of "The Estonian Carry"

An example of "The Estonian Carry"

The winner receives his wife’s weight in beer. If you’ve ever been to a gathering of Estonians you know that won’t last long. All the boozing will be mingled with many speeches on Historical Facts You Don’t Give a Shit About, but I’m sure knowing that all those dudes were running around with their wives draped around their neck makes things a little more cheery.

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