Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The evolution of sport

Last summer I went camping in the boundary waters for a few days with three buddies. We got really smelly, but had a great time. On the fourth day of our journey we had some down time at the camp site. There was a big rock near the fire pit and I said, "do you guys want to see who can throw that rock the farthest?" They all looked at me, then looked at eachother, and almost in unison said, "of course we do." So we drew a line and took turns heaving the rock. We each got three chances. Former Roomie B was the heavy favorite, but in his third attempt, BAR matched Former Roomie B's best throw.

[I should note that Former Roomie B is the manliest man I know. He owns a lot of tools, has lots of heads of stuff he shot hanging on his wall and had just carried a waterlogged canoe for like a half mile. BAR, on the other hand, lives in Boy's Town in Chicago, has curly blond hair and owns a parakeet named Steve.]

Obviously, the competition could not end in a tie. The two battled it out in five more rounds of "sudden death" until finally Former Roomie B bested BAR. We had just spent an hour throwing a rock in the wilderness of northern Minnesota and it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. After the competition, we laughed at the idea of what our female friends would think if they saw it. They'd criticize. But guys love competition and for this reason, we rule.

A few weeks ago, about 15 of my law school friends rented a condo on a lake up in the Wisconsin Dells area for a weekend. On one of the evenings, we were discussing who was more crazy, men or women. The women, being crazy, all thought that men were crazier. We men, being right, disagreed. But what shocked me was that, one of their arguments was our rock-throwing contest! That's right, they said that our awesome rock-throwing contest was evidence of our crazyness. Anyway, a short time later, most of the women went inside the condo, presumably to gossip and do dishes. I looked at the rest of the guys and said, "do you guys want to have a rock-throwing contest?"

A few minutes later, we're down on the beach drawing a line in the sand and looking for a big rock. By the end of the first round, all of the girls were down on the beach watching us. Former Roomie B defended his title against strong performances by BAR and a newcomer to the competition, Seth Rogan. After we were finished, do you know what the women did? They had their own rock-throwing contest. Who's crazy now? Guys rule because we are willing to do fun things even if they seem stupid and pointless. Having fun is never stupid. Having fun is the point.

Last weekend, I had another fun experience playing a seemingly stupid and pointless game. I was in Brainerd, Minnesota (Yes, the town depicted in Fargo. They didn't really talk like that though. Of course, being from Wisconsin, I kinda talk like that myself.) for a wedding (that I will probably discuss in greater detail when I have time) . After the rehearsal dinner, some of the other members of the wedding party and I went to a bar on the lake. It was a typical lake town bar; nice patio, descent pizza, Big Buck Hunter, hilariously dressed locals etc. But the highlight for us was Hammerschlagen.

I had never seen this game before, but Hammerschlagen is a truly awesome sport. they take a big old cross section of a tree and set it on the ground at about table-height. Then a townie babe sells nails to drunk guys for $2. The nails are driven into the tree enough that they stand on their own. Then the hammer is passed around and players take turns swinging at their nail with the wedge end of the hammer. Whoever drives their nail in first wins a free drink. It's actually pretty tough to make contact with the nail, but if you hit it right, you can drive it in in one shot. That's when you feel really tough. Additionally, players make side bets in the middle of the stump, similar to craps. Yes, this game combines gambling and swinging a hammer. What could be better? After dropping $20, I finally won my free drink. Good times were had by all.


Anonymous said...

I think they have Hammerschlagen at the Hofbrau Haus on Old World Third St.

Danny from Milwaukee said...

Really?!?! I've been there a few times and never noticed it before. I will have to check this out for myself. Oh boy, I sure hop you're right!

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear what started in the back waters of Minnesota has caught on. We should have an annual one.

The all-night drive and paddling on that trip was intense, but I've noticed that Rhoades has sort of fallen off publishing his intensity newsletter, and so submittal to said publication hardly seems worth it.