Why you should care
Because why wait until the Olympics or next international competition to learn about a new sport?
Not long after basketball was invented in Massachusetts in 1891, a “less strenuous” women’s version emerged. The aim of the new game — known as netball and played by more than 20 million worldwide — was to let ladies engage in a sport while maintaining their feminine decorum. Jump to now: These days, feminine decorum is the last thing you’ll see at international netball tournaments. It’s an intense, fiercely competitive sport, and it’s dominated by powerfully built, brilliantly athletic women. And after decades of dominance by Australia and New Zealand, many of the world’s top netballers now hail from Africa. Read the story here.
Indians’ mad passion for cricket can be difficult for outsiders to grasp, and when a match of true national importance is on TV, hundreds of millions tune in to watch. But the sport, long valued for its gentlemanliness and its place in Indian history, is changing — and not every fan is pleased. The Indian Premier League, a more commercially accessible version of the game that the late Robin Williams joked was “basically baseball on Valium,” could eventually replace traditional forms of the sport. The talent level is impressive, the pace is fast and games tend to be louder than the decor on a Mumbai taxi. There’s also booming music, fireworks and — yes — even cheerleaders. Read the story here.
Curling is always a top contender for the most accessible sport in the Olympics, full of people you could easily see yourself having a beer with. But it requires a bit of coordination to slide across ice and aim heavy rocks down the curling sheet, and it requires a sharp tactical mind. And the sport is gradually picking up speed outside of Canada: Now you can go curling at USA Curling-affiliated clubs that have sprung up all over the map, from San Diego to Richmond, Virginia. There are currently 165 clubs in 42 states. Read the story here.