6 Overlooked Sports at the Summer's World Outgames
By Andrew Belonsky
When you think of sporting events like the World Outgames, holding its third gathering in Antwerp from July 31 - August 11 of this year, you typically think of baseball players in their just-tight-enough close-trimmed breeches or basketball players, tree tall, sinewy and dripping, or of cocky soccer players tearing off their shirts at the latest goal.
These daydreams are wonderful distractions from daily life, yes, but let's not forget about some of lesser known but just as riveting games that will be played this summer, when an estimated 10,000 sports fans descend upon this Belgian city's streets for the occasion.
1. Pétanque: A French offshoot of boules, this game takes balls of steel, and players who know how to work them just so, inching ever closer to the center cochonette. The World Outgames' 2013 showdown will be held at Antwerp's Sporthal Kattenbroek, which comes complete with a tavern for those who just want to watch the action.
2. Chess: A beautiful bod only goes so far if there's no beautiful mind behind it, especially when that mind's dedicated to anticipating its partner's every move. Those skills could come in handy away from the board, too. An estimated 150 players are expected to converge at the Riviera Bridge Club to compete in the World Outgames' 2-day chess tournament this summer. The venue will also host the games' Bridge contest for those who prefer couples' games.
3. Martial Arts: "Women with weapons, free style." That's just one of the many categories of martial arts that will be fought by about 70 men and women at the World Outgames. There's a range of styles, too, including the Israeli art of Krav Maga (seen above, old-school style), Thai boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu — a flavor for every taste.
(Knife-wielding maniacs are no match for those practiced in the art of Krav Maga.)
4. Country Western Dancing: Not to be confused with another World Outgames sport that involves twinkle toes, the more traditional same-sex dancing, the Country Western Dancing dance off will feature 100 couples of varying skill levels kicking and sliding their way through the Belle Epoque Room at the Hilton's Antwerp outpost, a singular hotel built within the 1864 of the former Grand Bazaar. Yee-haw! That's what we call a contrast in cultures, no?
5. Inline Speedskating TimeTrial: The inline skating industry could stay in business on gay men alone. The most dedicated fans of this 90s-era trend will race toward the fastest finish during a timed travel. Less hardcore skaters can sign up for the World Outgames' free inline skating tour through Antwerp's historic streets, the site of Belgium's 1980 gay pride parade, the nation's second.
6. Synchronized Swimming: This probably isn't surprising, but it's always worth thinking about a group of wet men working in perfect unison, as seen in this video from the 2009 World Outgames in Copenhagen.