Struggling Korean Baseball Team Replaces Fans with Cheering Robots

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A struggling South Korean Major League baseball team has come up with a novel idea to boost players’ morale. They’re replacing human fans with robots called ‘Fanbots’, all in a bid to improve the atmosphere at their matches.

The promo video for ‘Fanbot – the world’s first cheering robot’ rides high on the emotions involved while watching a match. “Fans of Hanwha Eagles always come to the stadium to cheer for the team,” the video states. “But those who cannot come to the stadium watch the game on the web or on their phones and cheer through commenting online. What if there was a robot cheering for those fans?”

It’s not easy being a fan of the Hanwha Eagles – most fans are subject to ridicule because of the team’s poor performance. The Hanwha Eagles have suffered over 400 losses in the past five years. Fans of the team are regarded with sympathy – they’ve even been dubbed ‘Buddhist Saints’ and ‘Hanwha Chickens’ by fans of other teams. The humiliation has been so great that many fans don’t feel like attending games anymore. Others simply do not have the time.

fanbots-korea

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Chinese City Builds World’s First Rectangular Running Track

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Sports officials in Tonghe County in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province have built the world’s first and only rectangular running track. That’s a weird shape for a track, but their reason for building it is weirder – because they couldn’t get an oval one ready in time for an inspection!

The running track was built as a part of a larger, big-budget project – the renovation of Tonghe County’s 10,000-square foot stadium. Local authorities were behind schedule and time was running out. With a Communist Party inspection looming over their heads, the managers of the project simply decided to ditch the traditional oval design and go for a simpler rectangular one instead.

While the rest of the stadium looks brilliant with its perfectly laid grass and excellent seating facilities, the rectangular track sticks out like a sore thumb. The original track at the stadium was actually oval, but the officials explained that it was so worn out that it couldn’t just be used as a template for re-painting. The inspection was a last-minute decision, and the managers had to complete the track in a hurry, so they simply decided on a rectangle with 90-degree bends that were easier to measure and lay out.

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Portland’s Unique Zoobombing Scene – Grown-Up Racers Riding Tiny Children’s Bicycles

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A group of bikers in Portland, Oregon, share the most unusual love of children’s bicycles. Several riders take to the hills of Washington Park every Sunday with a single mission – to speed downhill on tiny kids’ bicycles, after the sun goes down. Seasoned bikers ride at the front of the pack, while beginners follow their lead. They all take off at the same time, at the countdown ‘Three, two, one – Zoobomb!’

The unusual hobby is called ‘Zoobombing’, and it was born in Portland, one of America’s most bike-friendly cities. The ‘zoo’ denotes the fact that participants start at a spot near the Oregon Zoo, from where they speed downhill, while ‘bomb’ is a term used to describe biking downhill at very high speeds.

In zoobombing, the most glorious riders have the smallest wheels. The ideal size is the 12-inch, designed for use by three-year-olds. Those who aren’t comfortable with wheels so small prefer to ride 16 and 20-inch wheels. “On a tiny bike, you feel like you’re going faster,” said April Cox, a 16-incher who has been zoobombing for the past nine years.

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Teqball – An Awesome Combination of Football and Table Tennis

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What do you get when you combine Table Tennis and Football, and throw in a dash of technology? The answer is Teqball, an addictive new sport that’s becoming more popular every day. The sport involves the bouncing of a ball between opponents, off a highly sophisticated table designed to keep things fair.

To play a game of Teqball, all you need are a Teqboard and a ball. According to the official website, the Teqboard is a sporting equipment, very similar to a ping-pong table, that’s been designed keeping in mind the rules of mathematics and physics. So a ball will bounce off any point on the board, making it easy to reach and control. Although you can’t touch the board, it can withstand a great amount of pressure, making it durable and safe to use.

The ‘net’ at the center of the board is made of polycarbonate/plexiglass, ensuring that the ball bounces off it in a fair manner. Thanks to the unique design of the Teqboard, the only thing that matters in the game is talent; there’s no room for luck. The ball used for playing is a regular football, preferably a FIFA size 4.

Teqball

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9-Year-Old Basketball Player Gets Recruited by Miami University Because She Is That Good

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While most fourth graders in the United States are grappling with the basics of the sport, nine-year-old Jaden Newman is already playing basketball like a pro. In fact she’s so good that she’s been approached by Miami University – they’ve asked her to keep them in mind when the time comes for her to make her college choice. Getting recruited by a college-level team is no mean feat, and it’s really astonishing that Jaden has managed to achieve it at such a young age.

Playing basketball alongside older players isn’t new to Jaden – she’s already been through two seasons on the girl’s high school varsity team at Downey Christian School, a private school in Orlando, Florida. Her stats are mind blowing; at just 4 foot 5 inches tall, she’s averaged 14.5 points and 7.5 assists per game while playing against teenagers this past season. Her performance gained her national prominence, and now that she has the offer from Miami University, she’s believed to be the youngest female player to ever get recruited by a Division I program.

Jaden-Newman

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Legally Blind Football Player Signs with Top College Team

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17-year-old Aaron Golub from Newton, Massachusetts, is legally blind. His right eye does not function at all, and he has very little vision in his left. But what he lacks in vision, the boy makes up with sheer determination. He recently achieved his lifelong dream – a chance to play football at university.

Getting a spot on a college football team is no joke, a lot of kids with perfect vision can’t make it. But Aaron, a senior at Newton High School, has gone and done it despite all the odds against him. Through sheer hard work, he’s managed to secure a preferred walk-on spot at Tulane University, one of the top college football teams in the United States. He has been signed on as a long snapper, a position that requires tremendous speed and accuracy.

While most people believe you need natural talent to be good at sports like football, Aaron was quite mediocre when he first started to play. According to his coach Chris Rubio, “He was very, very, very, we’ll say ‘average at best’ when he started. But the kid is just so determined. You tell him what to do, and consider it done.” For several years, Aaron relentlessly practiced snapping a ball into a target every morning before school and on weekends.

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Amazing Ping Pong Player with No Arms Will Convince You That Nothing Is Impossible

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Egyptian para-table tennis player Ibrahim Hamato has no arms, yet he can put almost any amateur ping-pong player to shame. How he is able to handle the paddle with his mouth and actually direct his shots is still a mystery to me, but watching him play is fascinating

“I had an accident when I was 10 years old but I loved table tennis,” Ibrahim says. “Three years after my accident, I wanted to play again holding the racket under my arm, but it didn’t work out. After trying different options, I found myself playing with my mouth.” The inspiring athlete was invited to be the guest of honor at the World Team Table Tennis Championships held in Tokyo this year. A short video clip shows him playing with some of the world’s best players – and they look like they’re struggling to keep up with him! His serve is incredible, and some of his shots are truly spectacular. “I feel very happy that I got this invitation from Mr. Sharara,” he said.  It is a big reward for me to watch the best players in the world in Tokyo and I hope this shows people that nothing is impossible as long as you work hard.”

ibrahim-hamato

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Big-Hole Golf Makes Putting Sport More Accessible to the Masses

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Big-Hole Golf is a recreational version of regular golf that helps beginners and disheartened casual golfers enjoy a good game. As the name suggests, the golf holes are 15-inch in diameter, instead of the regular 4.25 inches. Golf purists may scoff at the thought of this, but big-hole golf is gaining popularity, even among seasoned golfers. They call this big-hole version ‘fast and fun’, which they say is quite nice for a change.

The concept of big-hole golf is very similar to that of regular golf. You hit the same number of full shots as in normal golf, which is the heart of the game for most players. The bliss and frustrations of the game are still the same, it’s just that you’re a bit farther from the hole. While the traditional format of golf tends to be slow and difficult for newbies, big-hole golf is a lot more exciting. The idea is quite simple: faster rounds, less putts, more fun.

Big-hole golf is said to be the brain-child of Mark King, chief executive at TaylorMade Golf Company. When asked why he chose to make the holes 15 inches, he shrugged and said, “It seemed about the right size.” To put the idea into action, TaylorMade paid another Minnesota-based company called Par Aide to manufacture 15-inch hole-cutters, coordinated tee markers and shorter flags to distinguish from other regular flags that might be on the green. The company then held an event as a part of the Hack Golf initiative – to solicit fresh ideas for bringing more players into the game and retaining the current ones.

Big-Hole-Golf

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A Sport Called Motoball – It’s Like Football Only with Motorcycles

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What do you get when you combine football and motorcycles? The answer is Motoball, a motorized sport generally unknown in America, but fairly popular in Europe. As you can guess, it’s no dainty game. Right from the noise and fumes, to the daredevil stunts that players perform on their motorcycles, Motoball is a truly hellish, cutthroat version of soccer. The relatively unknown sport is largely played in Europe, where many countries even have national teams. Some of the best Motoball players in the world are from Russia.

A Motoball match is played on a regular football field, complete with goal posts. There are two teams of five players each – four riders and a goalie, who is the only one not riding a bike. The players on motorcycles chase a large ball that is 40 cm in diameter and weighs about one kilogram. As the bikers speed towards the ball, they stop the motorcycle with just one foot and draw the other foot back to kick the ball. The matches are officiated by two referees, assisted by two linesmen. A match is split up into four 20-minute periods.

The goalies stand in a red area that is marked as a driver-free zone. The rest of the grass, mud or concrete field is pretty much free for the eight riders to tear after the ball, at speeds as high as 65 miles per hour. Expert maneuverability skills and lightning-fast reflexes are key in Motoball matches, as is the ability to shoot the ball accurately from the motorcycle seat. There are a few rules set in place for safety, like no smashing, but that doesn’t keep the players from getting hurt.

Motoball-sport

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Combat Juggling Is a Real Sport and It’s Awesome

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There is usually nothing competitive about juggling there is this one group of jugglers that has managed to transform a harmless performance art into an exciting contact sport – ‘combat juggling’. A combat juggling match consists of two teams competing against each other, with each player juggling three clubs at a time. The players move towards each other, trying to interfere with and knock out the other player’s clubs. The last player standing with all three clubs in the air is declared the winner.

I watched a video clip of the sport, and after I got a hang of what was going on, I found it quite fun to watch. Of course, the word ‘combat’ is quite misleading – there’s practically no risk of any kind of injury in this sport. According to one player, Scotty, “Combatting is a sport because it’s a game. You compete, you have winners and losers. Bunch of people, we’re all juggling three clubs, last person juggling wins.”

Combat-Juggling

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Japanese Company Launches Pillow Specifically Designed for Pillow Fighting

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Did you know that pillow fighting is actually a serious sport in Japan? And that there exists a pillow specifically designed to be used in official pillow fights? And that it is the ‘Officially Recognized Pillow by the All Japan Pillow Fighting Association’? I wish I’d known all this sooner. Perhaps I’d have considered moving to Japan to become a professional pillow fighter. Such a cool job.

The association even has official tournaments. Just last weekend, they had an All Japan Pillow Fighting Tournament in Ito City. The participating fee was $20 per team, and they all competed for a grand prize of $1,000. Japanese pillow fighting has its own set of rules: it’s a lot like dodge ball, but fluffier! Each team consists of five members, who have to remain within the team’s court (about 356 square feet) at all times. From the moment the whistle sounds, all they do is throw pillows like crazy, using blankets to shield themselves. Getting hit by a pillow directly sends a player out of the game.

Sounds all right so far, but this is where things get really bizarre. During the match, the referee calls out from time to time: “The teacher is coming!” One of the teams will have to take the cue and lie down immediately, pretending to sleep. One member from the opposite team can walk over and steal as many pillows as he can. Then the game resumes. Doesn’t it sound a lot like the crazy games we invented as kids?

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Meet the German Prince Skiing for Mexico in a Unique Mariachi-themed Suit at the Sochi Winter Olympics

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Prince Hulbertus von Hohenlohe – his name might sound German, but he’s actually Mexican. But he’s also a German prince. Confused? Let’s start again.

Prince Hulbertus was born in Mexico in 1959, to Prince Alfonso and Princess Ira of the reigning dynasty of a former German county. The German prince and Mexican citizen is often known to people by his nickname – ‘Royal Disaster’.

Over the years, the prince has been in the news for all strangest reasons. The latest – he’s formed a one-man Alpine Skiing Team for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. He plans to represent Mexico and win the title of ‘king of the hill’. Not for his skiing talents of course, but for his bizarre outfit.

Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe

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Goanna Pulling – Playing Tug of War with Your Neck

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If you’re as ignorant as I am, you’re probably scratching your head and asking yourself “what the heck is a goanna?” It’s a lizard species, but don’t worry, no animals are hurt in the unusual sport known as goanna pulling.

Goanna Pulling is basically tug of war with a bizarre twist – instead of their hands, competitors must use their heads to pull each other over the line and win the game. The rules are pretty simple: two people go (literally) head to head on the goanna pulling pad. They get down on all four, with their bellies touching the board and their heads held high. This position makes participants look a lot like goanna lizards, hence the name of the game, in case you were wondering. The two opponents each place their palms behind  a white line traced on the board, and a referee puts a large leather belt around their heads. As soon as he give the signal, the two contestants must use their upper body strength -their neck muscles especially – to pull the other guy past the line and win the game.

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How Do You Stop a 400-lb Running Back? You Don’t!

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At 6’4”, (190 centimeters) and 400 lb (181 kilograms), Tony Picard, a senior at the White Swan High School in Yakima, Washington, is not only the biggest running back in high-school football, but probably the biggest in the history of pro football, as well.

Just like the famous William “Refrigerator” Perry, who played for the Chicago Bears during the 80′s and 90′s and is known as one of the biggest players to ever play pro football (6’2” and 335 lbs.), Tony “The Tone” Picard started out as an offensive lineman, but after his coach noticed his unusual speed, he was reinvented as an unlikely running back. His qualities for the position became evident at a football camp a couple of years ago, during a game of basketball. “He was so agile and making shots from way out there,” White Swans coach, Andrew Bush, recalls. “I said ‘I’ve got to use this somehow.’” He gave Picard just two instructions: average 4 yards per carry and don’t fumble. In the first 10 games of this season, the Tone has averaged 5 yards per carry. “Most teams will sacrifice five guys to stop him: four linemen and a middle linebacker. That leaves three guys on each side to stop the rest of our team,” the coach says. “Everything else opens up: our outside running, our play action, and our entire passing game. We average about 450 yards as a team offensively.”

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Gender Test Demanded for South-Korean Women’s Soccer Player Who Scored 19 Goals in 22 Games

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Here’s something that doesn’t happen every day: the coaches of five of South Korea’s seven women soccer league teams have threatened to boycott the national competition if Seoul City Amazons striker Park Eun-Seon does not have a gender test. The 26-year-old was named best forward this season, with 19 goals in 22 matches.

At 1.80 meters tall and weighing 74 kilograms, park Eun-Seon really does have a physique worthy of her team’s name, and could probably even secure a place in a men’s soccer team, which is exactly why several coaches of rival squads are threatening to boycott South-Korea’s women’s soccer league if she isn’t required to take a gender test. But according to Seoul City Amazons officials, Park’s manly physique isn’t reason enough to humiliate the player by forcing her to pass yet another gender test. They claim the whole thing is part of a “conspiracy” because she has shown such remarkable form this last season, after a long career slump. Seoul Sports Council general secretary Kim Joon-Soo seems to agree. ”We have no intention of accepting the gender verification test just to stop the boycott,” he said. ”This is a serious violation of human rights that she’s suffering for a second time. The question regarding Park’s gender identity shall never be raised again. The city of Seoul will take all necessary measures to protect our player’s human rights.”

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