The most bizarre organized sports leagues on Earth

Everyone loves the four major North American team sports: football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. But as much fun as it is to watch groups of athletes push this ball through that thing over and over, sometimes it gets just a little bit repetitive. Luckily, it turns out there are all sorts of other, more … interesting options available. Ever wonder what might happen if you took your favorite sport and added food, broomsticks, lawn mowers, or random fistfights to it? Luckily, someone somewhere has, and the proof is in this examination of some of the most bizarre sports leagues from around the world.

Major League Eating & International Federation of Competitive Eating

The entire idea of competitive eating is kind of disgusting. Yet it's also so primal and basic, it's no wonder Major League Eating & the International Federation of Competitive Eating have become actual things in our world. Major League Eating hosts worldwide competitions between adults who call themselves things like "The Megatoad" and "The Locust," with winners actually getting paid for becoming the living avatar of one of the seven deadly sins. In the world of weird sports, gluttony is definitely a virtue.

Extreme Ironing Bureau

The Extreme Ironing Bureau is an organization dedicated to promoting and regulating the sport of extreme ironing which, as you might guess, is something literally made up by a bored dude in his backyard. The idea is that you do all sorts of crazy extreme sports things—like bungee jumping, deep sea diving, and rock climbing—all while carefully ironing a shirt. Somehow, this has caught on all over the world, with athletes from around the globe gathering for meets such as the Extreme Ironing World Championships. Most of it is done for charity, making this more of a semi-professional league, but still, we'd love to see LeBron try to dunk while ironing his own uniform.

Pro Kabaddi League

If we told you there was a place where one of the most popular sports was a combination of tag, wrestling, holding your breath, and chanting nonsense words, you'd probably assume it had something to do with Hogwarts. But the awesome sport of Kabaddi didn't spring from the mind of J.K. Rowling. Instead, it's a wildly popular team sport throughout India and southeast Asia. Players hold their breath, run into their opponents' zone, and tag people while chanting "kabaddi" to prove they are still holding their breath. The tagged people try to catch them and wrestle them to the ground before they return to their own side. Millions of people watch this on television. Hey, more power to them. It's no sillier than March Madness.

U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association

Move over NASCAR, there's a new motorsport sweeping America: lawn mower racing. And actually, it's not even new — the United States Lawn Mower Racing Association is poised to celebrate its 25th anniversary next year. Hosting races around the nation and firing up crowds with the catchphrase, "Let's mow!," the USLMRA pays its winners mostly with food, rather than money. But that's cool too, because competitively mowing a lawn is really hungry work. It should be noted that the sport is for riding mowers, so if you show up with a push mower, expect to both lose and be laughed out of the "arena."

World Chess Boxing Organization

Chess focuses entirely on brains. Boxing, meanwhile, is mostly about brawn. But what if you want a sport that combines tests of both brains and brawn? Well, then the World Chess Boxing Organization might be exactly what you wanted. As the name strongly implies, chess boxing is a sport that combines both chess and boxing, with opponents alternating rounds in the squared circle with sessions on the chess board. We … would watch this.

World Adult Kickball Association

To paraphrase 1 Corinthians 13: "when I was a child, I played as a child, but when I became a man, I put childish games behind me. The World Adult Kickball Association has a simple counter-question: "why?" Why stop playing awesome sports like kickball just because they're supposedly "for kids?" The answer, of course, is that there's no justifiable reason to stop playing kickball, which is why WAKA supports events in 35 states across the country. Okay, so the "world" part of their title is a bit ambitious, as is their stated goal to "create 100 million smiles." We're not sure how they measure that, but just thinking about playing kickball is enough for us to add one to their current tally.

Pillow Fight League

If the thought of professional pillow fighting makes you laugh, well, wipe that smile off your face (sorry, WAKA!), because the Pillow Fight League is serious business. Founded over a decade ago in Canada, the Pillow Fight League is an honest-to-god professional competition, where teams of women enter a boxing ring and viciously pummel each other with pillows. The rules are actually very similar to MMA, with pretty much no-holds-barred, provided the hold utilizes a big pillow in some way. What's more: athletes have frequently been injured in these pillow fight, amassing concussions, torn muscles, and internal injuries. Don't let the NFL hear about this!

Bubble Football League

First off, the "football" in Bubble Football League is actually soccer. Secondly, those bubbles? The players are inside them. Yup, it's playing soccer while inside gigantic inflatable bubbles! You may not be aware of this, but those giant bubbles also have a different name: they're called "zorbs." Why they didn't just call it Zorb Soccer, we're not sure. The point is, if you ever dreamed of being inside one of those crappy plastic tchotchkes you got for a quarter from some grocery store vending machine when you were a kid, this is your chance to live that dream! While also playing soccer. What an amazing time we live in.

International Quidditch Association

Unlike kabaddi, quidditch actually is a fake sport invented by J.K. Rowling. But some ideas are just so good they can't be confined to the wide world of Harry Potter. That's why, nowadays, you can actually play real live quidditch as part of the International Quidditch Association, which oversees events on hundreds of campuses around the world. Of course, there've been a couple changes made to the rules, since nobody can actually use magic or fly on brooms. Also, the Golden Snitch is now just a tennis ball in a sock. But other than those minor details, it's exactly like in the books!

Yukigassen Federation

Finally, there's Yukigassen, which is a Japanese form of organized snowball fighting. Yup. You never realized it, but all those times you pelted passing cars with chunks of frozen ice and then ran away when they smashed into a lamp post, you were playing Yukigassen! Well, a reasonable facsimile thereof, anyway: under the official rules laid out by the Yukigassen Federation, matches feature teams of seven players using pre-made snowballs, in a single elimination showdown that also incorporates a game of Capture the Flag. Sounds fun!