We know that most students live busy lives, so in between post-Jesters hangovers and the odd lecture, you probably haven’t been paying attention to some of the main sporting events taking place around the world. Fortunately, as two humanities students with very little to do, we spend most of our time watching sport, and as such, we can be your guides through the sporting wilderness, reviewing some sports events that get little mainstream coverage in the UK.
Why you’ve missed this: No normal human should stay up until 3am every night.
There have been two major storylines in the NBA this season. The first is the retirement tour of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant; the second is Golden State Warriors’ pursuit of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ all-time single-season wins record. The Kobe retirement tour was slightly let down by the fact he’s no longer the player he used to be and the fact he was playing with probably the worst supporting cast of his career, but in his final game he put on a show at the Staples Centre, scoring 60 points in a Lakers win (it took him 50 shots to do it, but efficiency has never been Kobe’s strength).
The Warriors have been far more interesting, because they are actually good at basketball. Led by the trio of Steph Curry (last season’s MVP, who also set a new record for single-season 3-pointers made), Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, they’ve turned last year’s championship success into a tilt at being the greatest single season team of all time, starting out by winning 24 straight games. They tied the Bulls by beating title contenders San Antonio, before easing to a win against Memphis on the last day of the season to secure their 73rd win of the year. Chances are we’ll get a Warriors-Cavaliers Finals series, in a replay of last year, which means another face-off between Curry and LeBron James, possibly the two best players in the game.
Why you’ve missed this: Barely any TV coverage.
This year has been a transition year for squash, a slow fading of the old guard and the emergence of some outstanding new talents on the PSA and WSA. In the men’s game, whilst the season has been mostly dominated by young Egyptian Mohamed El Shorbagy, the 25-year old world no. 1 (somehow still a university student at UWE), this year has seen bright young talents – such as his brother Marwan El Shorbagy, Ali Farag and Mazen Hesham, producer of some of the most outrageous shots in squash history – come forward and state their case to join the world’s elite. At the other end of the scale, the older players have been raging against the dying of the light. World no. 2 Gregory Gaultier sealed his first World Open title in November last year, beating Omar Mosaad, who finally seems to be reaching his full potential. From a British perspective, Nick Matthew remains world no. 3 and James Willstrop has shown signs of a revival.
In the women’s game, there has been a real shake-up at the top of the rankings, with Nicol David, previously ranked no. 1 for 108 consecutive months, dropping to third, and Britain’s Laura Massaro reaching a historic first time at the summit of the women’s game. However, it has been the rise of Nouran Gohar, 18, and particularly Nour El Sherbini, 20, the two finalists of the recent British Open final, that has really turned heads this season. In both the men’s and women’s game, the signs point to a very bright future for squash.
Why you’ve missed this: You’ve not heard of it yet.
The traditional Indian sport of Kabaddi (which is essentially tag, mixed with wrestling, mixed with holding your breath for long periods) has seen a revamp in the last couple of years. This year marked the third season of the Pro Kabaddi League, with 8 franchises battling it out over a month in cities across India, like the IPL for masochists.
This year’s champions were the Patna Pirates, who triumphed over U Mumba led by their talisman, Sandeep ‘The Beast from the East’ Narwal (important point: all good Kabaddi players are called Narwal). Both the Puneri Paltan and Bengal Warriors made the playoffs for the first time, finishing 3rd and 4th respectively. Bengal were led by Jang Kun Lee, the ‘Korean King of Kabaddi’, showing that the sport has true international appeal. The unfortunate teams not to make it to this stage were the Telugu Titans, the fantastically-named Jaipur Pink Panthers, the Bengaluru Bulls and the ultimately useless DaBang Dehli.
If you could choose one sport to start watching next year, this should be it.
Why you’ve missed this: This seems obvious.
This ridiculous sport is entering its 27th year, with championships taking place in Nevada in October. The aim of the sport is simple: to push your customised outhouse (portaloo, as they’re known in the UK) round a course in the quickest possible time. Each outhouse must have three costumed team members: a rider and two pushers. Last year’s winners were Sport A Potty, who beat Dung Fo Warrior and Commando Commode to the title in a thrilling finale.