Human beings are hard-wired for competition, that's how we got to be the top mammal on the planet. And, I should add, whether you're keeping score by evolution or creative design, we did it in record time. Humans rule! BooRay!
With love of competition come all the accoutrements of competition: clubs, leagues, rules, records, schisms, clothes, equipment, stars, fans, national organizations, rankings, newsletters, magazines, TV shows, conventions -- the whole smear now made universal and immediate by the Internet.
Of course, readers want to know what's new in human competition, sports division. All right, let's take a look at "extreme ironing" (extremeironing.com). Their website claims 1,000,000 visitors, and I'm inclined to believe that figure due to the integrity of the site's presentation. This is how ironing professionals describe themselves: "The sport that is 'extreme ironing' is an outdoor activity that combines the danger and excitement of an 'extreme' sport with the satisfaction of a well pressed shirt." That is a perfect sentence. Nothing can be taken from it or added to it.
The idea behind "extreme ironing" is to pick up self, an iron and ironing board, and hie to an extreme location. Extreme ironers have -- and have photos to prove it -- performed nude ironing on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, ironed while hang-gliding, and pressed shirts on the North Pole.
Note to "extreme ironing" professionals: I don't like to pass over underwater ironing or its cousin, bog ironing, or ignore the worldwide celebrations marking a new land-speed record for ironing (125 mph). It's a space issue. You understand.
Then, there is the USA Rock Paper Scissors League (www.usarps.com/site/index.php). This is a maturing sport with a pedigree. USARPS events have appeared on ESPN. They have a national tournament with big-time sponsor (Bud Light), in a big-time location (Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas), and pretty big-time money ($50,000 for the winner).
As you probably know, Andrew Golder and Matti Leshem, co-commissioners of the USARPS League, have a lot on their plate, but that doesn't stop the diligent co-commissioners from leading a nationwide campaign that we all hope will culminate on February 4, 2007, on the 50-yard line of Dolphin Stadium, moments before the kick-off to Super Bowl XLI. If the co-commissioners have their way, NFL executives will replace the robotic, boring, flipping of a coin by a faceless umpire or ex-president with a gripping contest of rock, paper, scissors, staring the opposing quarterbacks, in a two-out-of-three death-match to see which team will receive and which will kick-off. We can make this happen, people.
Moving on to elephant polo (www.elephantpolo.com)... You'll be happy to learn that the World Elephant Polo Association is celebrating its 25th year overseeing competitive EP.
Elephant polo is played on a field that measures 120 yards by 70 yards. The game consists of two 10-minute chukkers with a 15-minute break at halftime. For civilians, a chukker is a period. Horseback polo usually has six chukkers, seven minutes each.
For those planning on taking up elephant polo, here are a few hints that will improve EP play. You may not lay your elephant down in front of the goal in order to block an opponent's score. Your elephant may not pick up the ball with his trunk and throw it through the goal, nor kick the ball through the goal. It is wise to practice one killer shot. In basketball there is the dunk. In elephant polo there is the equally difficult under-the-trunk shot.
Finally, the granddaddy of new sports, professional miniature golf (www.proputters.com/). This sport is so established I've hesitated to put it in. But, after a lot of back-and-forth, I've decided to include it as an example of what can be accomplished with dedication and time. So, listen up, ironers, EP players, and rock, scissors, and paper professionals.
The Professional Putters Association has been around since Dwight Eisenhower was president. They have a pro division, an amateur division, and a national tour (pro, amateur, and senior). They have an Amateur World Match Play Championship, National Amateur Doubles Championship, and Amateur Seniors Championship. Ditto for the pro side. They have a Hall of Fame, ESPN coverage, and the Putt-Putt television series, which, they say, is the longest running syndicated sports program in television history. And then there is the crown jewel, Putt-Putt World.
They have Putt-Putt World, from Volume 1, Number 1 (printed in March of 1959), through 1998 on their site. And you can download this reference material FOR FREE. Follows is a sample:
"Miss Putt-Putt to Tour America During Season. The beautiful Joan Honeycutt, Miss Putt-Putt of 1958...will be off on a glamorous tour of America...visiting many colorful cities...public appearances...before civic clubs, youth groups, and at other appropriate functions, plus, meet thousands of Putt-Putters in person on the Putt-Putt Courses."
Ms. Honeycutt, if you're reading this, call me.