When it comes to sport, ‘each to his own’ so the saying goes, but whilst many of us think of sport as Major League Baseball or NFL, you’ll find a lot stranger goings on in the Big Apple. From bull riders to big eaters right through to the Gotham Girls Roller Derby you’ll find them all in NYC. Here we take a look at NYC’s weird and wonderful ‘sports’ and leave you to decide…
Professional Bull Riders (PBR)
What? A bull riding competition in the heart of Manhattan? Are you crazy? Yep, as crazy as it might seem, each year the city sees 700 tons of dirt lining the arena floor and an excitable crowd cheering on the bull riders as they do everything they can possibly do to stay on top of a bucking 2,000 lb bull for 8 seconds or more. Points are awarded for control, body position and style of riding.
Where? Madison Square Garden
Why? Professional riders like Luke Snyder can earn over a $1 million in their bull riding career. With large-scale pyrotechnics and rock music it’s more like a rock concert than a sport but it’s a whole lotta fun to watch.
Empire State Building Run-Up
What? Just as it says, this is a race which begins in the Empire State Building lobby and takes the hopeful runners up 86 flights of stairs to the finish line located at the observation deck. The stairwells were obviously not designed to be handling 600 runners at one time and so to avoid over crowding the start times are staggered with the most elite competitors getting to go first.
Where? Empire State Building in February.
Why? Well… in order to see this crazy run you’ll need to take part! Racing to the top of this iconic building to finish and see the panoramic nightscape view of the City has got to be one of the most memorable experiences for a runner.
Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest
What? Believe it or not, most casual sports fans have actually heard of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest but that still doesn’t make it any less weird. Every 4th of July a bunch of (we assume very hungry) men and women get together to feast themselves full of as many franks as their stomachs can take in a 10 minute window. Competitors employ a range of funky techniques to stuff more hot dogs than you can imagine down their necks as fast as possible. Thousands of fans attend this bizarre spectacle and the sport even has its own icons such as perennial champion Joey Chestnut.
Where? Coney Island, Fourth of July
Why? It’s a great atmosphere and tens of thousands of New Yorkers attend annually to cheer their hungry heroes along. A range of great costumes and the real chance that a hot dog world eating record may be broken add up to an entertaining day for everyone.
Gotham Girls Roller Derby
What? Now this is a lot sportier in the traditional sense but still not mainstream. Two all female teams of skaters skate around an elliptical track. Each team is led by a ‘jammer’ who scores points by lapping as many opponents as she can. Other players ‘blockers’ work together to protect their own jammer whilst also trying to prevent the opposite team’s jammer from progressing. It’s a slam dunking physical game and with amusing skater names like Speed McQueen, Angela Slamsbury and Anne Phetamean, you’re sure to have a giggle.
Where? Various NYC venues from March to October
Why? This is one of the very few all female contact sports and these women know how to hit hard! New York City’s roller derby is the best to be seen anywhere and competition is both fierce and entertaining. Do you know of a weird, wonderful or bizarre sport we’ve missed out? Let us know in the comments box below, we’d love to hear about more wacky sports, events and goings-on in New York City.
- License: Creative Commons image source
David Wilson is a travel writer who offers advice and information about living in the United States.