12 of the World’s Strangest Competitions


From television shows such as “The Voice,” to the “Miss America Pageant,” “The Bachelor,” to “Survivor” and more, the art of competition has long been a form of entertainment. Fresh off the heels of the National Football League’s Super Bowl and the entertainment industry’s Grammy Awards, it is easy to see how much Americans love to compete, and even more, to win. Some are motivated by it and others are not. However, its approval rating in the American culture is unmatched by any other industrialized country on earth.

Since the pleasure of winning is short-lived, competing can be highly addictive. Immediately after winning, it is usually followed by the drive to win again. While some argue that “healthy” competition is a great character building tool, others disagree. Rather than building character, some say it ruins relationships, sabotages self-esteem, and distorts recreation by turning the playing field into a battlefield.

Despite the pros and cons of competing whether, in business or personal aspects, history reveals that it is deeply engrained into the fabric of the world. There are many different types of rivalries held all across the globe, but here are 12 of the world’s strangest competitions.

#12 The Battle of the Oranges – It is war that has been replaced with buckets of oranges instead of guns. This battle is an organized competition that involves throwing oranges between two prearranged teams.

#11 Mud Belly Flopping – This competition is a favorite of the annual Summer Redneck games. During this rival, contestants dive into the mud hoping to make the biggest splash. The mud belly flop is to the Redneck Games what the slam-dunk contest is to the NBA All-Star Game.

#10 Cricket Spitting – This is a sport wherein contestants place a dead cricket in their mouth, and then spit it as far as they can. The competition was developed by a Purdue University’s entomologist named Tom Turpin for the school’s annual Bug Bowl event.

#9 Vodka Drinking – Many are happy to compete in this Russian event despite several casualties. It is a high-risk contest where several enter the competition alive, but exit dead.

#8 Shin Kicking – This competition draws thousands of spectators excited to see who can tough it out and endure the accompanying pain of the highest order. In order to prepare for the sport, some contestants hit their shins with hammers.

#7 Chili Pepper Eating – The Annual NC Hot Sauce and Hot Chili Pepper Eating Contest is one of the competitive eating events. During the five rounds, the heat factor pushed up a little until contestants drop off in search of a cucumber and river of milk.competition

#6 World Sauna Championship – The world sauna championships, originated in 1999, involved competitors who attempted to outlast others in the heat and steam. The contest was a Finland favorite but has since been retired after a contestant died in 2010.

#5 Chess Boxing – This competition seems to be the natural progression to the challenging and often frustrating game of Chess. It is particularly popular in Russia, Germany, India, and Great Britain.

#4 Tuna Throwing – This self-explanatory competition takes place in January at Australia’s Tunarama Festival. Originally, contestants threw a frozen tuna to see how far it would go. However, since 2008, fake ones have been utilized instead, primarily due to the dwindling of the tuna population.

#3 Headstand Beer Drinking – Headstand beer drinking is all part of an annual fun sports event called Wonder Week held in Opava, Czech Republic. This competition mirrors its name exactly as contestants try to drink beer while standing on their head.

#2 High Heel Race – Held in cities across the globe, this race is a running event in which the participants must overcome a distance of 80 meters (around 260 feet) running in high heels that must be at least 2.8 inches high.

#1 Pig Grunting Championships – For this event, contestants, often dressed in pig costumes; imitate the grunt of a pig. The Pig Grunting World Championship held annually in Paris is a very popular sport of pure fun.

These are just 12 of the world’s strangest competitions, but a host of them exists. Some are more dangerous than others that are held just for fun, but all have attracted a certain audience and been deemed crowd pleasers. The thrill of close competition attracts viewer’s interest and many believe losing bears greater weight when the competition is a tight one. Overall, one thing is certain, people love to compete at pretty much everything and this list of 12 strange competitions from all over the world prove it.

By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)


Psychology Today: Why Do We Have an Obsession With Winning?
International Review of Modern Sociology: Winning: Reflections on an American Obsession
Alfie Kohn: No Contest – The Case Against Competition

Photo Credits:

Top Image Courtesy of  Frontierofficial – Flickr License
Inline Image Courtesy of Lauri Rantala – Flickr License
Featured Image Courtesy of Sergii Gulenok  – Flickr License

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