Monday, August 5, 2013

Ukrainian Sports

     Across history, one of man's favorite pass times has been sport. For centuries humans have shed sweat and blood in the pursuit of glory, banded together for a common goal, or torn each other limb from limb in passion. Now, you may be thinking "alright, alright, that's all very nice and dramatic, but sports today are controlled and play out on neatly manicured soccer, ahem, excuse me football fields, and in arenas". Not so, my friend. Let me tell you about some of Ukraine's favorite "sports". 
Arguing with Policemen: this sport can accommodate multiple players but is most commonly acted by 1 policeman and 1 civilian. The object of the policeman (hereafter known as P) is to leach as much money from the civilian (C) as possible. This can be done one of two ways: convince C that it will be easier for he or she to bribe P, or, if C is tougher and unwilling to submit to such bureaucracy, to stop two more drivers to act as witnesses and write C a "protocol" (ticket). C's objective is to weasel his or her way out of paying. This can be accomplished through arguing, pleading, yelling, crying, or any other way C can imagine.
*It should be noted that C is often stopped for no real offense or for having offended an invisible sign.     

Pot Holes: Most countries pride themselves on clean, smooth roads for their citizens to use safely, with as few bumps (physical or metaphorical) as possible. Ukraine has evolved past this stage and instead allows drivers to use their time economically, both driving and playing games, in this case: Pop Goes the Pothole. In this game, the player must dodge as many potholes as possible. There are virtually no rules, meaning drivers/players can ignore all rules of traffic (i.e, speedlimits, lanes, and direction) in the prestigious, yet nearly impossible attainment of a smooth journey.     
*Players are cautioned that Pop Goes the Pothole may have minor consequences, including but not limited to injury, loss of vehicle, collision, becoming stranded, or death. 

Guess Who: my sister's personal favorite, this game can be played virtually anywhere with anyone, as long as a conversation is in session. The object of the game is to keep track of who exactly is being talked about. Sound simple enough? The more challenging version is played when the player is actually named one of the more common Russian names; the goal in this case is to respond to your name only when you are actually being referred to. Our particular round (a round may continue indefinitely) included 4 "Natasha"s, 2 "Nastya"s, 2 "Lyuda"s, 2 "Sergei"s, 2 "Igor"s, 2 "Olga"s, and an infinite number of "Sasha"s. (Needless to say, I am quite happy to be named something as completely un- Russian as "Jessika")     
Pear Dodging: may be played with variations of fruits or other falling objects. The game is played when enjoying time outside; do not worry about searching for falling edibles, conveniently there will always be a pear tree exactly where you need to be sitting/standing. Players are advised to cover head immediately upon hearing the rustling of the falling item. Fear not: being hit is not (usually) fatal.     
Hay Wrestling: this game can only be played accidentally, preferably when not properly attired. The name of the game does not refer to wrestling in hay, but rather wrestling the actual hay. Materials include: 1 ton of hay (the pricklier the better), 1 transportation truck, and as few players as possible. The object of the game is to load the hay into the truck with no injury or allergic reaction. Bruises or other battle scars are awarded extra points; allergy should be treated with decades old rubbing alcohol. Haha, good luck!     

*It should be noted that all above- mentioned sports have not been exaggerated, but are the actual reality of the Ukrainian people as observed by my family and me.

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