Inside the Blinds: Europe’s Finest Sports Are Cheese Rolling & Shin Kicking

GLOUCESTER, UK – Here is the USA, we sometimes forget that not everyone plays sports that we invented, like Baseball, Basketball, and Football.  Across the pond –  aside from footy – there really isn’t a dominant sports influence.  So this week I wanted to delve into a couple of  the “niche” sports of Europe.

This week one of the oldest sporting events in the world took place.  It wasn’t the Olympics.  It wasn’t a wrestling match.  It wasn’t even a Regatta. Monday at high noon marked this year’s edition of the Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling Competition.

Yes the yearly event held in the sleepy little town of Gloucester has been going on so long that no one knows when it started.  The event is all that is left of what seems to be the old English versions of a side show carnival.  According to the events website other events that used to accompany the Cheese rolling include; “Shin-Kicking”, “Climbing a Pole”, “Grinning in a Horse collar” and “Wrestling for a Belt.All I have to say is thank god for cable TV.  Climbing a Pole?!  That’s the best thing you could come up with?  Imagine a world where you are sooo bored out of your mind that you look over at your buddy and say, ”Hey, I bet I can kick your shin harder than you can kick my shin.

Cheese rolling obviously took more thought than shin kicking and I’m guessing that is why it is still around.  The details of how the Cheese rolling competition are quite simple.  A Wheel of cheese is rolled down  Cooper’s Hill.  First one to the bottom gets the cheese.

Now I love cheese just as much as the next guy but if I want a 25 pound wheel of Gloucester’s finest I will simply go buy it.  The even bigger scam is that second prize if five quid!  So basically if you win you get the following package; A separated shoulder, really bad gas, and  more cheese than you could possibly consume before it gets moldy.

There is only one person I know that would want to throw himself or herself off of a perfectly good hill… Short Matt.

Another event Short Matt would excel at is coming up next month: The 2012 Wife Carrying Championships…I guess he probably needs to work on a dance partner for this one.

Again, this competition has been going on for a long time with only legend for origin.  It is thought that in Finland in the 1800’s that young men would go to neighboring towns and physically steal wives.  Why you would want to do such a thing is beyond me but I am sure that the men whose wives were stolen were extremely relieved.  Over the years this thievery developed into an obstacle course competition.  This time the prize is awesome.

First prize: The weight of your wife in BEER!!!

Up tomorrow: Cookie’s Corner.

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About Cam James 128 Articles
Cam James hails from Missouri and is a down-the-line St. Louis fan: Rams, Cards, Blues... Thus his occasional "Ram Rules" column. He hates Kansas basketball, lives in Denver, been a wrestler, dabbled in Ultimate Fighting and plays hardball. Oh, and he's Opie Taylor white.