Move Over Curling, Here Comes Flailing

A new sport is vying for attention on the world scene, and its proponents are challenging The Powers That Be to include it, rather than Curling, in the next Winter Olympics.

The sport is called Flailing, and, like Curling, is normally played on ice, with special shoes (coincidentally called “ice shoes”). However, some players practice Indoor Flailing as well, either in an arena or on a sort of stage similar to a boxing ring.

As demonstrated by one flailing enthusiast in this single-frame stop-motion video, the sport of Flailing involves two opposing teams who flail the arms and upper body in a seemingly random series of movements while standing still and facing each other. The goal: to incite such mental confusion that your opponents fall to the ground and pass out, all without any physical contact. Though appearing like random motions to the uninstructed, Flailing moves are highly strategic and coordinated among the five members of the team to gain the best advantage over their opponents.

A team gets 1 point for each opponent’s fall and 2 points for each black-out. Though players can get back up after a fall, the round ends when an entire team either topples simultaneously or is unable to keep their balance long enough to continue their own flailing.

The game is relatively new to most of the world, but has roots in the indigenous populations of the tiny Mohagi Island in the middle of the Black Sea. Recently, however, it has become very popular with Europeans and Americans as a non-violent “alternative sport” for boys and girls. Sarah Watkins, president of Mothers Against Violence in Sports (MAViS), says, “Indeed, Flailing offers youngsters a new sort of fun, which builds character and intellectual vigour instead of glorifying brute force as do rugby and American football.” She hopes that flailing will bring a “new era of sports, in which brain energy is strengthened, rather than weakened.”

Others see Flailing as an affront to their own sports, with centuries-long traditions in international competitions (which Flailing admittedly does not share). The World Curling Federation, now preparing for the Youth Olympic Games, called Flailing “a clear ripoff.” Curling champion Sven Eiríksson of Lillehammer, Norway, said, “The Flailing folks obviously stole the name from Curling. Curling is already an intellectual sport, incorporating the laws of physics and the conservation of momentum,” adding that Flailing looks more like “Yoga positions on steroids.”1 Curling has been nicknamed “chess on ice,” whereas Flailing does not seem to have attracted any nicknames yet. (If you have any ideas, please post in the comments.)

The staff of The Flying News tested out the sport of Flailing2 and found it “invigorating” (Jim), “discombobulating” (Phim), “reinterpretating” (Lim), and “kind of like having a staring contest with a doughnut, while standing on top of the doughnut hole (which does not exist) and swimming in the deep” (Vim). Unfortunately, Lynn became ill during the match and all her photographs ended up overexposed.


“Seal Tracks on Ice, From Above 2,” by Jason Auch. CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

  1. While the current Flailing rules do not bar steroid use, most players deny taking anything other than organic supplements.
  2. It has also come to our attention, thanks to an observant reader, that some rock stars incorporate Flailing into their songs, both in the studio and during live performance.

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