I thought, perhaps, since the rest of the world already decided to use the word football for soccer that they added the American version of the game as one of the non-Olympic sports at the 17th Asian Games and decided to call it kabaddi. Not that that necessarily makes any sense, but the way things are going with the NFL these days, we’re gonna run short of players pretty damn fast. Unless they just revamp the entire league to be made up of prison teams. But then since I’m not a real fan of professional football anyway, I decided maybe not knowing what kabaddi was wouldn’t really mean my life is unfulfilled.
That could have been the end of my curiosity, but then I ran across the pictogram used to identify the sport in international multi-sport competitions and it’s gotta be the gayest athletic symbol the world has ever seen. Even more so than where your mind goes when you hear men’s diving. It was either that or I was just confused and that’s the Dallas Cowboy’s new logo since they signed Michael Sam to their team.
Kabaddi originated in the northern parts of the Indian Subcontinent in the 16th century and is played today under a variety of names, primarily in India and its environs and in parts of Asia. That the game received international exposure during the 1936 Berlin Olympics should tell you something. As should that India has taken the gold medal at the Asian Games every time the game was considered a sport at the Asiad since 1990. You’d think when it comes to strange sports India would have just been happy with the one the British Raj left them, but instead decided that just wasn’t cricket. So kabaddi has been included in the past seven Asian Games as a nod to India, allowing the country to go home with at least one gold medal. I’m hoping that means at the Rio Olympics they’ll include a male wet T-shirt contest so that the host country can pick up a few more gold medals too.
As for what the
sport game is, Wikipedia says it is “a contact sport based on wrestling”. After watching a YouTube clip of a match and becoming an expert on the game – yes, that really is how long that takes – I’ve filed a correction with Wikipedia. Because Kabaddi is a contact sport based on tag, not wrestling. Granted, sometimes what looks like the type of wrestling you see on a grade school’s playground is part of the game. But then so is pushing, shoving, and trading insults with the opposing team. I just wish I’d known about kabaddi when I was in the third grade ‘cuz then I could have told the principal I was not roughhousing during recess, I was just playing kabaddi. And that would have been one less parent/teacher conference my folks would have had to attend.
Of course in a sport as complicated a kabaddi there are several versions, each with its own set of rules. The International version, which is the one played during the Asian Games, is the most complicated ‘cuz it uses not one but two different boundary lines. Other than that, the sport’s rules are pretty simple. Each team has ten players, seven of which take to the field at one time. The game starts with each team occupying a different side of the playing field (which can be sand, dirt, grass, an asphalt parking lot, or whatever indoor stadium someone allowed you to use to make it look more like a sport than a game). And then, like in most real team sports, each side takes a turn trying to score points.
To do so, Team A sends one of its players across the line into Team B’s territory. That athlete is known as a raider. But don’t worry about having to learn the names of all the positions because that’s the only one that has a name. The skill part of the sport is that before the raider runs across the line, he has to take a deep breath. Then he runs over and tries to tag as many opposing team members as possible before he’s out of breath and has to inhale again. He has to make it back to his team’s side of the field before taking another breath for those tags to count as points, and when he does get back to safe territory he chants, “kabaddi, kabaddi” with his exhaling breath to show the referee he has not inhaled. It’s rumored that Bill Clinton is a fan of kabaddi.
If the raider inhales before he gets back home, or if he fails to tag at least one opposing team’s member, he’s out. And that’s a point for the other team. If he manages to tag one or more opposing team’s members and gets home before inhaling again, then those guys are out and are worth a point each for the raider’s team. And if he gets home before inhaling again and tags every opposing team’s member, it’s called a ‘lona’ – which is kabaddi for those guys really suck – and his teams get two bonus points. That’s a lot of opposing team’s member touching going on. And a lot of out kabaddi athletes. And since the players usually wear nothing but gym shorts, I’m pretty sure kabaddi qualifies as the world’s gayest sport.
But Wait! There’s More!
Remember how Team B can score a point if the raider has to inhale before he gets back across the line? Well, that’s where Wikipedia’s misguided belief that kabaddi is a contact sport based on wrestling comes in. Wrestling the raider to the ground so that he has to breath before crossing back to his side of the playing field is part of the game. And since it’s harder to bring a bear to his knees than it is a twink (except for the real effeminate ones), kabaddi players are usually quite beefy. Which can be a challenge when you come from a country that doesn’t eat beef. And means kabaddi matches often end up looking like nothing more than two bears fighting over who gets to top and who gets to bottom this time around. It’s a shame the sport wasn’t more popular around the world or gay kabaddi memes would rule the internet.
If you can find a bookie who’ll take your bet, it’s a pretty safe wager to go with India winning the kabaddi gold at the 17th Asian Games. If you’re going for the trifecta, Pakistan or Bangladesh will win the silver and/or the bronze; the two countries have traded medals over the last five Games. I don’t have a clue as to what they make the fourth place medal out of, but Japan usually takes that one although you gotta keep your eye on Iran. Because you always need to keep your eye on Iran. And while fish playing kabaddi is not something I want to think about or picture, it’s good to know the Thai women’s team snagged a silver medal back in 2010 (the Thai men’s team has only managed to place in the upper six once, in 1998).
Malaysia and South Korea will join those countries for the kabaddi matches to be held at the Songdo Global University Gymnasium starting on September 28th for the 17th Asian Games. Tickets, I’m sure, are still available. Or you can just stay home and rewatch your favorite gay bear porn dvd instead.
[‘The XVII Asiad’ are a series of posts about hot competitors and general articles about the 2014 17th Asian Games of interest to gay men. So, yeah, lots of hot male eye candy. Click the XVII Asiad’ graphic below for additional news, stories, and pictures.]