A Pictorial Presentation: On the Orkney Islands, north of Scotland, residents of a small town participate in what is perhaps the oldest and most physical sport in the world.

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    Dec 30, 2007 2:04 PM GMT
    KIRKWALL, Scotland

    William Thomson's family had played this sport for centuries, so he understood that he needed to choose between two strategies for the annual Christmas day ba' game.

    The scrawny 17-year-old could fight for the ball in the center of the riotous scrum, where more than 300 men would function as a human juicer, turning his face red, then purple. He would be scratched, punched, kneed and bitten. His ribs might break. He could pass out unconscious.

    Or, Thomson could follow convention for players his size and stay near the edge of the scrum, pushing the pile. This would work well unless the ball popped out and the mob changed direction. Cars, gravestones, houses, strollers, hotel lobbies -- all had been kicked, shoved or trampled in pursuit of the ball during previous games. Anticipating such a stampede, business and homeowners in town had nailed wooden planks across their doors and windows. "If you're on the edge of the scrum and it turns on you," one veteran player said, "then you might as well be dead."

    Pictorial Presentation: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2007/12/28/GA2007122802243.html?hpid=artslot

    Article:
    http://blog.washingtonpost.com/why-we-compete/2007/12/tradition.html
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    Dec 30, 2007 2:53 PM GMT
    wow...thats the greatest thing I've seen in months..thanks for the links.
  • cybex007

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    Dec 30, 2007 3:35 PM GMT
    very intense...never heard of this competition before...thanks for the info.
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    Dec 30, 2007 7:48 PM GMT
    Just looking at the pics, the name seems wildly appropriate!
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    Dec 30, 2007 8:12 PM GMT
    Looks awesome, but seems similiar to the origins of Gaelic Football and Hurling prior to being codified in 1884 by the Gaelic Athletic Association (www.gaa.ie).

    Both Games would be played by the entire populations of two villages and the first to get home would be the winner. Different districts would have a preference either Hurling (small ball) or Gaelic Football (large Ball)

    Gaelic Football looks like a mixture of Soccer and rugby. Aussie Rules started as a hybrid of Gaelic football and they an international game called compremise rules betwen the two football codes.

    Hurling is basically Gaelic Field Hockey http://youtube.com/watch?v=AM-kB1e96CA

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    Dec 30, 2007 8:47 PM GMT
    I've been to Kirkwall once, wildly beautifull place, when I was taking my boat around the world. Beautiful harbor, treacherous as hell to get into in bad weather.

    Nice little pub there in the Albert Hotel had some great Ale; very friendly people.

    Madsoccer is probably right though in that similar contests (though not quite as big I think) are held in many places throughout the West and North - the primary Galletach (sp? - Gaellic speaking areas).
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    Dec 30, 2007 9:13 PM GMT
    I think it would be a neat event to watch from on top of a roof or from an upper story window.
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    Dec 31, 2007 12:42 AM GMT
    The Scots (I'm including the Orcadians in this) do some really wild things. They call New Year's Eve Hogmanay, and in the town of Stonehaven they do Fireballing, which is lighting a bunch of oil soaked rags in a metal cage, attach it to a long metal chain link rope, and swing it over their heads. A crazy Scot around here had us doing it at his house for Hogmanay last year.

    You can see more about it here, and see a YouTube video of it here.
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    Dec 31, 2007 1:17 AM GMT
    Don't knock it until you've tried it...

    Hogmanay is incredibly fun.
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    Dec 31, 2007 1:25 AM GMT
    I did try it, and had quite a few drams of whiskey to prove it! The Scots *really* know how to party. I'm not knocking them at all. In fact, I got my chance to swing the Fireball, and it's quite a trip.
  • bigguysf

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    Dec 31, 2007 5:42 AM GMT
    wow... one of the nuttiest things I have ever seen! ;)
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    May 14, 2008 6:23 AM GMT
    'tis a nice game
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    May 14, 2008 8:29 AM GMT
    Looks gay to me.