The greatest sport you've never seen
It’s no shock to anyone that we sports fans are grasping at straws for sports to watch. Sure, we have the KBO and the UFC, and ESPN has been airing a bunch of old games, but we’ve been searching far and wide for something new. I don’t know about you, but I personally can’t stand watching replays of games that I already know the results of. Sure, it’s great to watch that epic MNF Chiefs-Rams game from a few years ago or rewatch the 2004 World Series, but part of the excitement in sports is the fact that you never know what’s going to happen! And so, I’ve been looking for something to watch in between KBO games, and I think I’ve found it: hurling. I know, I know. It’s not what it sounds like, I promise. The game has nothing to do with throwing up (or even throwing anything). And it might just be the coolest sport you’ve never heard of.
Hurling is an Ancient Gaelic sport that dates back to over 3,000 years ago and is just as entertaining today as I’m sure it was then. The best way to describe it is real-life quidditch, but for you non-Harry Potter fans, it’s like full contact field hockey, plus rugby, with a little bit of soccer and lacrosse thrown in for fun.
There are two teams with 15 players on each side, each with a paddle called a “hurley”. The goal is to hit a ball called the “sliotar” either over goal posts for 1 point or into a goal underneath the goal posts for 1 goal. 1 goal is equal to 3 points, but apparently, there’s a really important distinction between goals and points. They keep the goals and points tally separate on the scoreboard, so don’t try to call them the same thing!
Players can pass the sliotar between each other by hitting it with the hurley, kicking it, or “hand passing” it, which again, is different from a throw. Just don’t ask me how. The game is played in two 35 minute halves with extra time like soccer, so it’ll take you a little while to watch.
There are a lot of other rules that I haven't eve touched on. You can't pick up the sliotar from the ground, so to get it, you have to pop it up and catch it. You also can only run with it for a certain amount of time (I still haven't figured out the specifics on that), so a lot of players balance the sliotar on the hurley (see the gif to the right).
My favorite part, however, might be the broadcasters. These guys are talking in the thickest Irish accents ever and they say some things that definitely wouldn’t fly on American television. I’ve watched a few games, and I still can’t fully understand what they’re saying half the time. You can find a lot of games, highlights, and more detailed rules on YouTube, so watch to your heart’s content! And if anyone wants to start a team with me, hit me up on Twitter.