Most sport fans have a plethora of favorite sporting activities – baseball, football, soccer, hockey, basketball, and even professional auto racing are among the most popular in the United States. On the other end of the spectrum, some sports are fairly underappreciated in the public eye, getting markedly less recognition and/or support from the community. The negligence that seems to follow these activities (especially in national sporting powerhouses like America) is often untraceable; as is the relationship between American Football and many European nations, it may simply be that people would rather watch – and play – something else. Sadly, public preference has crippled the popularity and coverage that many sports used to get. This newfound apathy could have surfaced for multiple reasons – perhaps the opinion of previous target audiences has changed, or influential media has declared the sport too unsafe. In any case, the only way the public is going to start talking about these washed-out sports is if they are motivated to do so. Here are 3 sports that no one seems to talk about today, even though there is a pretty good argument that they should be…
- Bowling — Today, bowling is a casual, recreational activity that is almost universally unrecognized as a real sporting event. Despite this modern status, however, bowling used to be highly popular to both spectators and professionals in the field of competitive sports. The history of bowling is fairly obscure – activities similar to it date back as far as 3000 B.C., into the time of the Ancient Egyptians. The core ruleset of it has since grown, developing and refining over time. Fast-forwarding into the 20th Century, competitive bowling hit its peak popularity in the 1960s, following the invention of the “automatic pin-setter,” but it has never reached such a tremendous
following since this period. Modern bowling is enjoyed as a physically-active form of social entertainment, and, though upwards of 50% of the people who play it would claim “they aren’t good at it,” it is quite well-known in the global community. It is fairly unlikely, however, that it will reacquire the recognition as a “real sport” that it had 60 years ago.
- Handball — In countries that are not the United States, “football” refers to the game played using a spherical ball and one’s feet. Football is an amazingly popular sport with a following of billions – a number that is still growing rapidly. But the sport known as team handball was formally developed around the turn of the 19th Century in the territories of Northern Europe, and shares many significant rules and regulations with football as well as basketball. 2 teams of 7 players each (including one goalie) must dribble the ball across the field of play and move it to the opponent’s score area.
Like football, the goalie has the sole duty of protecting the netted goal, and the rest of the team must work together to move the ball across the court to score. Handball is similar to basketball, however, in that it is usually played indoors, and features using one’s hands to pass, block and score. The spherical ball utilized in this game is smaller than both a basketball and a traditional football, but is larger than a softball.
- Curling — Many people may have seen a professional game of curling and not even known about it. The name of this obscure sport is a particularly misleading factor of this, and can easily conjure up the image of two bodybuilders professionally competing to see who can “curl” the most weight. Originating as a sport in post-Medieval Scotland, Curling involves 2 teams of 4 players each. One player slides a specially-designed stone across a plain of ice (similar in size and texture to that of a hockey rink), throwing it with the force and accuracy needed for it to halt in a 4-layered score circle;
the role of the other player on a team is to shape the ice in front of the stone as it slides, using a special sweeper/broom to manipulate its path towards the center of the score ring, all without touching the stone itself. Curling is an intricate sport that requires much skill and strategy, similar to chess or archery. However, the player-pairing element of curling also hybridizes it with other team based sports like hockey, making it truly unique.
Whether they’ve long since past their days as a popular competitive sport, or simply never picked up traction with the masses to begin with, these 3 sports are currently experiencing a period of modest negligence – their communities are recessive and small, and the professionals that participate in each are gaining less recognition as the sport’s following diminishes. Bowling, handball, and curling, along with sports suffering a similar fate, are sadly analogous to an outmoded online video game that has lost the ability to generate player interest. There is still, however, the possibility of a public resurrection for some of these unique, esoteric sports. The community’s power in reviving competitive discussion of these activities is not to be underestimated.
Two things: I suspect you’d find that curling, far from being in ‘dark times’, is growing in profile. (A second curling event was just added to the winter Olympics, for example.) And a rock counts for a maximum of one point, no matter what its location in the rings.