The Sports Discovery thread - what craziness did you come across?

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MDLzera
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Rather than going to bed like a responsible person I'm sitting here on FS2, absorbed by my first-ever experience watching Beach Soccer. It's in a small arena-like field, played 5 on 5, with a whole lot of nifty chips, aerial attempts, and overhead bicycle kicks are so frequent that they're a stat that is tracked and discussed. It's the Beach Soccer World Cup, and the USA is tied with Japan 1-1 after the first, um, "period" of 12 minutes.

Anyway, post here if you're watching (or have come across) something off-the-beaten-path that is worth mentioning. We've got threads here on all kinds of specific sports, but no catch-all.
 

Conigliaro's Potential

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I could almost fill this thread up myself.
  • There are the British sports I've come to really enjoy and appreciate since living here, particularly cricket and snooker. (Snooker is far and away the best of the cue sports - so, so much more interesting and tactical and difficult than pool/billiards.)
  • There's Australian Rules Football, which I've been watching since I was a kid.
  • Winter sports like curling, which I now play as well as watch whenever I can, and ski jumping, which I followed closely enough at one point that I recognized all of the top 50 in the world and could tell you who was good and who wasn't.
  • Some of the rallies you'll see in badminton - especially doubles - and table tennis just blow my mind.
  • There's no sporting achievement quite like a nine-dart finish.
  • There are the Olympic sports which I'll sometimes watch outside of the Olympics - everything from team handball to snowboard cross to archery.
  • I love the idea of bandy, which is basically field hockey on ice - a soccer-sized pitch, using a ball, but the players are on skates holding sticks - but I can't say that I've actually seen more than a few snippets of action.
  • The one sport at which I can't quite believe anyone is good enough for it to actually exist: sepak takraw.
Really, I might as well post this link to the sports I'm interested in:
 

InstaFace

MDLzera
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So maybe post here the next time there's a true exemplar of the (oddball) sport about to be televised or streamed. As a longtime billiards player I've always kinda wondered what was going on when I see a snooker table at a pool hall, but have never had any real opportunity present itself to figure out how it all works. Sure, I could google the rules, but that's different than being impressed by some top players doing their thing.

I'm a huge disc-head, but I just can't get into disc golf. That said, I do find it way more watchable than regular golf, particularly for bending throws around trees.
 

Conigliaro's Potential

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So maybe post here the next time there's a true exemplar of the (oddball) sport about to be televised or streamed. As a longtime billiards player I've always kinda wondered what was going on when I see a snooker table at a pool hall, but have never had any real opportunity present itself to figure out how it all works. Sure, I could google the rules, but that's different than being impressed by some top players doing their thing.
Well, you're in luck: from this Saturday through to the following Sunday, snooker's UK Championship is taking place - it's the second most important tournament in snooker (behind the World Championship), and I'm sure it'll be streamed somewhere most hours of the UK day.

Several important snooker facts:
  • It takes place on a 12 foot-by-6 foot table. It feels exactly that massive when you're trying to play on it, and it really opens up all sorts of tactical possibilities.
  • You have to make a red first (worth one point), and then any color of your choice (yellow = 2 points, green = 3, brown = 4, blue = 5, pink = 6, and black = 7); the reds stay off the table once potted, but the other colors return to the table after they are potted; and once all the reds are gone, you then have to make the colors in order, at which point they finally disappear.
  • All fouls give your opponent 4 points - unless your foul involves the blue/pink/black, in which case he gets 5/6/7 points.
  • The number of points you score in one trip to the table is called a "break"; the highest possible break is 147 (15 reds all followed by blacks, and then all six colors); and the best perfect break of all time is generally regarded to have been scored by Ronnie O'Sullivan - easily the most talented player of all time, if not necessarily blessed with the best temperament - at the 1997 World Championship:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3C7I5lRZII

(I attended a session of the World Championship in Sheffield a year-and-a-half ago and got to see O'Sullivan make a century break in person, which was definitely on my sports bucket list.)
 

Fred not Lynn

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I love the idea of bandy, which is basically field hockey on ice - a soccer-sized pitch, using a ball, but the players are on skates holding sticks - but I can't say that I've actually seen more than a few snippets of action.
I would love to play bandy. I play a lot of hockey now, and did a little long- track speed skating back in “The Day” - so long-track hockey sounds fun!

Here’s a USA Hockey video where adults play on a near bandy sized sheet to promote cross-ice for younger kids. I like where one guy says, “It’s like a whole different sport”...

View: https://youtu.be/cXhxNq59pWg
 

SumnerH

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I used to play foosball on tour, going to tournaments across the nation. Another member here pinged me a couple of days about it, which turned into a discussion of who the GOAT is. Among the leading candidates are Tony Spredeman, who's currently 35 years old or so and has been the best over the past decade, and Todd Loffredo, who was the greatest player from 1978-1986 or so and continued to win World titles up until 2012 (often playing goalie for the great Frederico Collignon in doubles). He's about 59 years old now.

That led me to dig up some footage of Todd Loffredo playing vs. Tony Spredeman: Todd is I think 54 years old in this, and Tony's around age 30.

There's probably $10,000 or so on the line for the winner here.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObcAE9jk2c4


The match is from Colorado States, which isn't a major but is one of the next highest tier of tournaments.

Games are to 5 points (win by 2, or first to 8 points wins if it goes on that long), match is best 3 out of 5 games.

Todd shoots a pull shot, Tony shoots a snake. The pull sets up at the far side of the goal and can be shot straight or pulled toward any part of the goal. The snake is pinned in front of the rod and can be shot straight or moved in either direction; it's shot by putting your forearm on the rod and rotating it up and over while moving the bar laterally (it's also called the rollover or wrist-rocket; it's legal because the rod spins less than 360° before and after hitting the ball). Those are by far the two most common shots at the highest level.

Good players shoot very well from forward, so passing from the 5-bar to the forward bar is critical. Todd uses a brush pass where he angles the pass down along the wall or up through the lane; he moves the 5-bar laterally as he's hitting through the ball, causing it to move in the direction he's brushing it (this is much more consistent than trying to chip it at an angle with the corner of the man). Tony uses a stick pass series: he weaves the ball very quickly back and forth on the 5-bar looking for holes before passing it straight to the 3-bar. He doesn't usually angle the passes, relying on the speed of his lateral motion to reach an open hole in the defense. Again, the stick and the brush are the two most common passing series used at the highest level.

Todd mostly shoots a pull from goal, sometimes a push (where the ball is set close to you and then pushed out laterally before moving). Tony mostly passes from goal to the 5-bar, using a brush pass (the same pass Todd uses from 5-bar to forward, and different from his stick series used up front). From goal, it's also more common to mix things up, using push-kick or pull-kick options (where the ball is tossed from one man to another who hits it straight), and Todd's one of the few master level players who occasionally employs bank shots as well.

Todd plays basically the same shot and passing style I did, he's just a million times better.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Since I've started playing disc golf, coverage has gotten really good. Here's the last round of this year's world championships:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULczFFENOy8
Don't know how I missed this thread and this post until now, but yeah, this is what I'd have contributed. The coverage has not only gotten really good, it's gotten really prolific. Used to be one, maybe two tournaments a year would produce a final round VHS/DVD. Now we've got multiple channels on Youtube providing edited full tournament coverage as well as live streaming broadcasts year round.

I'm patiently waiting for coverage of a tournament I ran this past summer to be released on the Central Coast Disc Golf channel. Last I was told was it was slated for this week. I'll come back and post a link to it when it goes up.
 

SumnerH

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Don't know how I missed this thread and this post until now, but yeah, this is what I'd have contributed. The coverage has not only gotten really good, it's gotten really prolific. Used to be one, maybe two tournaments a year would produce a final round VHS/DVD. Now we've got multiple channels on Youtube providing edited full tournament coverage as well as live streaming broadcasts year round.
There's a video on YouTube of Paul McBeth playing a round with Ultimate player/trick-shot specialist Brodie Smith. It's fun to see them talk through the differences of throwing in Ultimate vs. disc golf, and to see Brodie try to learn to throw disc golf-style

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmTIfhJqzyg
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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There's a video on YouTube of Paul McBeth playing a round with Ultimate player/trick-shot specialist Brodie Smith. It's fun to see them talk through the differences of throwing in Ultimate vs. disc golf, and to see Brodie try to learn to throw disc golf-style

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmTIfhJqzyg
After that video (and a companion trick shot video on Brodie's channel) released, Brodie said if he got 10,000 likes he'd sign up to play a disc golf tournament. Since then, he's registered for a membership with the Professional Disc Golf Association. It's not a requirement in order to play most tournaments, but it is a step suggesting he's serious about it being more than a one-off. Disc golf has long been considered where Ultimate players go to retire, so he might be entering a whole new phase of his frisbee career. :)

The funny thing about that video is they shot it last winter but only just released it a couple weeks back. No idea why they waited so long to put it out.
 

SumnerH

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After that video (and a companion trick shot video on Brodie's channel) released, Brodie said if he got 10,000 likes he'd sign up to play a disc golf tournament. Since then, he's registered for a membership with the Professional Disc Golf Association. It's not a requirement in order to play most tournaments, but it is a step suggesting he's serious about it being more than a one-off. Disc golf has long been considered where Ultimate players go to retire, so he might be entering a whole new phase of his frisbee career.
He's also golfing (regular golf) a lot. There's obviously a lot more money there than anything disc-related, even at fairly low levels.
 
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Several important snooker facts:
  • It takes place on a 12 foot-by-6 foot table. It feels exactly that massive when you're trying to play on it
I played a lot of pool beginning in my mid-teens and and when I was like about 19 and in the USAF in France, I took a trip to London and encountered snooker. I also was 6'4", lithe, and had a 78" wingspan so I rarely used a rake. I could not believe how big a snooker table was.
 

Awesome Fossum

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Mr. Wednesday

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Interestingly, Raymond Chen has written briefly about both Pesäpallo (and pretty much all of the other significant stick-and-ball games) and Kabaddi:



I'm not sure it's exactly off the beaten path in New England (really, MA north), but I grew up watching candlepin bowling on WCVB and have gotten back into competing since I moved back to MA five years ago. It still gets televised on local access channels, and you can find the modern competitions (as well as a bunch of the 80's-90's-00's classic televised matches) on YouTube. Duckpin bowling is also fun to watch.

There are a few different candlepin matches that are worth watching---a few I'd suggest looking up are Paul Berger's 500 triple, Bob Kelly's 200+ string, and Ed Czernicki's 197. I think if I had to pick one, though, I'd pick this match between Tom Olszta and Craig Holbrook (two hall-of-fame bowlers, Olszta is arguably the best ever and was in the middle of what I think is his best season):

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_lcBeWqgjc
 
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I remember throwing three strikes in a row in a game when I was in high school and I'm not sure that I ever had three spares in a row.
 

wiffleballhero

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In the simulacrum
OK, since we're here:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVp7ReUfQ-0


Although some of these players are amazing, for sure. I, myself, am not on-board with the way GoldenStick has become the defacto 'championship' level for the game, and I have long since dropped out of ever playing in tournaments or by these rules (even if in my august years now I would also get cleaned out in the first round).

I've got my own thing, but Golden Stick sucks in large part because the rules that are normalized for this way of playing are absurd.

(FWIW, the biggest rule problem is that the strike zone target is terrible. It incentivizes never actually throwing a strike. A well pitched wiffleball is always out of the strike zone until it clanks the edge of the target. Every pitch should look like the one at 2:42 if you play by these rules. It is silly. Just call balls and strikes over the plate!)
 

InstaFace

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(FWIW, the biggest rule problem is that the strike zone target is terrible. It incentivizes never actually throwing a strike. A well pitched wiffleball is always out of the strike zone until it clanks the edge of the target. Every pitch should look like the one at 2:42 if you play by these rules. It is silly. Just call balls and strikes over the plate!)
You're saying you can't use the lawn-chair stand-in as a strike zone and have it still work as a bat-and-ball sport?
 

wiffleballhero

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You're saying you can't use the lawn-chair stand-in as a strike zone and have it still work as a bat-and-ball sport?

You can, but at a certain level, decent wiffleball pitchers are easily able to force a game where overwhelmingly pitches that are 'strikes' on the target are so while wildly bending around the normal sense of a strike zone over home plate. Anything that goes fat over home plate is a 'mistake' pitch. And we're not talking about elite wifflers here. Playing -- correctly -- with scuffed balls anyone who takes the game seriously at all works out the basics of this pretty quickly. I throw a curve, riser, screwball and something of a 'slider' all of which I can regularly clank off the target, and none of which are really strikes. For example, as a lefty, my relatively modest screwball will hit a right-handed hitter, unless he bails out of the way, in which case it will hit the inside (or even middle-in) of the strike zone. When I throw that pitch middle-middle over the plate, if the hitter misses (wiffs!) it pounds into the dirt in the left handed batters box.

Unlike stickball, where the target is a sensible move, there is just too much movement on a wiffleball and you are standing too close to home plate when pitching. Furthermore, because wiffleballs have so little mass, their vertical movement at the end of the pitch is often extreme, to say nothing of the impact of the holes.

The correction to this has been to use absurdly long bats -- 36-38 inches.

 

Conigliaro's Potential

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So maybe post here the next time there's a true exemplar of the (oddball) sport about to be televised or streamed. As a longtime billiards player I've always kinda wondered what was going on when I see a snooker table at a pool hall, but have never had any real opportunity present itself to figure out how it all works. Sure, I could google the rules, but that's different than being impressed by some top players doing their thing.
While you wait for the college football (or whatever else) to start today, the first semifinal of the UK Championship snooker is on right now - streaming sites are available, or if you can VPN to the UK I think you should be able to view it on the BBC Sport website. Or watch the final tomorrow morning (and afternoon, US timne), which will be a best-of-19-frames match over two full sessions.

FWIW, one of the commentators on the BBC right now is Dennis Taylor, who won probably the most famous snooker match of all time - the 1985 World Championship final, in which he upset the heavily favored Steve Davis 18-17 (best of 35) in a match that went down to the final black in the final frame. It finished after midnight in the UK, and nearly 18-and-a-half million people in the UK watched it to completion, quite a staggering figure that shows just how popular the sport was over here back then.
 

InstaFace

MDLzera
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I’m watching the Tetris championships on ESPN2
They should have a Dr Mario championship. That shit can get aggressive.

Maybe the video games forum should have a poll on which classic video game they'd like to see televised championships of. Goldeneye would just straight happen too fast, can't really see the real action unless you know the levels cold. I'd enjoy a Mario Kart tournament, but it'd be harder to enjoy with Sydney whining the whole time about how it's just randomness, not skill.
 

candylandriots

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They should have a Dr Mario championship. That shit can get aggressive.

Maybe the video games forum should have a poll on which classic video game they'd like to see televised championships of. Goldeneye would just straight happen too fast, can't really see the real action unless you know the levels cold. I'd enjoy a Mario Kart tournament, but it'd be harder to enjoy with Sydney whining the whole time about how it's just randomness, not skill.
Kinda tangential - but remember Rian Lindell (the nfl kicker)? I was friends with his older brother in high school, and the last time I saw Rian (not on TV) he was kicking my ass at Mario Kart when he was like 12.
 

Conigliaro's Potential

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Wow, VIPBox has a whole subcategory for snooker. I watched a few minutes at the airport, the two Chinese guys had some nice runs of shots, was flipping between that and the rules.
Not surprising about the streaming options available for snooker - the Chinese are crazy for the sport right now, and Ding Junhui (who won on Sunday) is arguably their biggest hero after recovering from a dismal run of form.

FWIW, my highest ever break in a frame of snooker is 32: red-blue four times in a row and then red-black thereafter. I felt like a superhero after that...of course, I still lost that frame, because snooker is ridiculously hard. (If I ever win the lottery or become a famous commentator or something, one of the first things I'm going to buy is a snooker table, almost immediately after buying a house with a room large enough to feature a snooker table.)