After 32 years of dream-job journalism, covering everything from the Final Four and the Super Bowl to the Olympics for the likes of Sports Illustrated and ESPN Magazine and spending more time interviewing nude men in locker rooms than he ever could have imagined, Rick Reilly set out in search of sillier sports to write about.
Constantly risking absurdity and death, like Lawrence Ferlinghetti's acrobat, Reilly puts himself to the task of competing in the world's most ridiculous sporting events in his new book, Sports From Hell: My Search for the World's Dumbest Competition. He warms up at the ninth annual World Sauna Championships in Helsinki, Finland ("To a Finn, a sauna is a holy place. Then again, so is Hell.") He tries his hand er, leg at Ferret Legging (don't ask). He RoShamBos his way into the 2008 World Rock Paper Scissors Championships; goes underground for the World Championship of Jarts in Piqua, Ohio; sheds his shorts Down Under for the World Naked Bike Ride in Sydney, Australia, and tries Zorbing in New Zealand. ("Do you know how, in twenty minutes, you can go from not knowing a thing about a thing to that thing becoming one of the things you'll talk about for the rest of your life? That's Zorbing.")
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Reilly does end up reporting from the sidelines at a few of the events: He chickens out after watching a few hands of Bull Poker at Louisiana's Angola State Prison, fails the eligibility requirement for the 2007 Homeless World Cup soccer championships in Copenhagen and opts to protect his glass-jawed king when it comes to Chess Boxing. So what's the world's dumbest sport, according to Reilly? Baseball. And the world's second-dumbest sport? Ask him yourself: He'll be signing autographs and reading from Sports From Hell tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover, 2526 East Colfax Avenue. Call 303-322-7727 or visit www.tatteredcover.com.
Wed., May 12, 7:30 p.m., 2010