Obscure Sports

A player serving on an outdoor court. In 2022, the Association of Pickleball Professionals estimated there were 36.5 million pickleball players in the U.S.

How the Obscure Sport of Pickleball Became King of the Court

With origins dating back to the 16th century, paddle sports have always had an unmistakable allure

Robert W. Bowles of Long Island competes at the first Sunfish World Championship in the U.S. Virgin Islands, in 1970. Bowles placed ninth that year. 

How the Most Popular Sailboat Ever Was Invented

The Sunfish taught millions of Americans to seize the breeze

Pickleball courts are starting to appear in vacant storefronts in shopping malls across the country.

Pickleball Courts Are Replacing Shuttered Mall Stores

Across the country, developers are trying to capitalize on the approachable sport's growing popularity

A game of doubles pickleball 

Why LeBron James Is Buying a Pickleball Team

The Los Angeles Lakers star is a fan of America's fastest-growing sport

A rider hangs tough during a rodeo at Madison Square Garden in New York, 1957. 

A Brief History of the Rodeo

The humble origins and complex future of cowboy competition

Snowboarder Shannon Dunn competes for Team USA in the 1998 Winter Olympics, where she won the bronze medal in half-pipe.

A Brief History of Snowboarding

Rebellious youth. Olympic glory. How a goofy American pastime conquered winter

Poised on a Nevada salt flat, Alan Case, one of the world’s top practitioners of flight shooting, aims his custom-built bow, which requires so much strength to draw he must use his legs.

The Quest to Shoot an Arrow Farther Than Anyone Has Before

In dogged pursuit of an exotic world record, an engineer heads to the desert with archery equipment you can't get at a sporting goods store

Three 3,000-year-old balls discovered at the Yanghai cemetery complex in Xinjiang

These Hair-Filled Leather Pouches Are the Oldest Balls Found in Eurasia

Some 3,000 years ago, Chinese horsemen may have used the objects to play a team sport involving hitting a ball

This Bahne skateboard, now part of the National Museum of American History’s collection, was given to a 9-year-old Tony Hawk by his older brother Steve in 1977. It was the first board the future legendary pro skateboarder learned how to ride.

What Tony Hawk's First Skateboard Shows About the History of the Sport He Made Famous

The legend has done the impossible again by bringing skateboarding into the mainstream

Saddle up! Donkeys can do much more than carry sacks of food: They can hoist around sporty, polo-playing humans, too.

After a Lifetime of Donkey Polo, This Chinese Noblewoman Asked to Be Buried With Her Steeds

New research reveals a Tang Dynasty woman's love for sports—and big-eared, braying equids

An Etlatongo ballplayer figurine unearthed at the site

Newly Unearthed Mesoamerican Ball Court Offers Insights on Game's Origins

"This could be the oldest and longest-lived team ball game in the world," says one archaeologist

Pierre de Coubertin first publicly proposed reviving the Olympic Games in 1892.

Speech That Inspired the Modern Olympics Is Now the Most Expensive Sports Memorabilia Ever Sold

An anonymous buyer purchased the manuscript, penned by French aristocrat Pierre de Coubertin in 1892, for $8.8 million

The 1876 Glaciarium included murals of the Alps on its walls and a raised seating section for curious onlookers, as shown in a May 1876 edition of Illustrated London News.

The 19th-Century Mania for Ice Skating in the Summer

Europeans sought to recreate the luxury of wintering in the Alps with an indoor rink attraction

The winning spellers made history with eight co-champions, the most number in the spelling event history.

The National Spelling Bee Ended in an Unprecedented Eight-Way Tie

"We’re basically throwing the dictionary at you," pronouncer Jacques Bailly told the spellers. "[A]nd so far you are showing the dictionary who is boss"

Why This Pretty Little Pigeon Is Worth $1.4 Million

Armando, the long distance pigeon racing champ, was recently bought by a Chinese buyer and put out to stud

Katmai National Park and Preserve has a ton of chubby cubbies. But which bear's bulk will bury the competition in the 2018 Fat Bear Week?

Time to Get Jiggily With it, Fat Bear Week Is Upon Us

Your vote will determine which fish-chomping ursine competitor in Katmai National Park and Preserve is the chubbiest cubby of them all

In an effort to keep the fad alive, Wham-O created new hoops, including one in 1982 that smelled of mint.

The Iconic Hula Hoop Keeps on Rolling

How the loopy 60-year-old toy maintains its popularity

The champion cheese chaser, brie-umphant.

Holey Swiss: Man Breaks Record in British Downhill Cheese Race

Fromage fiends have been participating in this unusual tradition for centuries

Yes, You Can Go Sandboarding in the Namib Desert

The Namibian town of Swakopmund is a top tourist draw for desert lovers. Popular activities include quad-biking and sandboarding down its massive dunes

Ruth McGinnis: The Queen of Billiards

Back when pool was a serious sport that grabbed the attention of the nation, one woman smoked the competition

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