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3:33 Sports Short #56 // On Favorite Sports by Libby Kalmbach

“Chess boxing,” is what my brother Bob says without hesitation when asked what his favorite sport is. Chess boxing, for the uninitiated, is a hybrid competition in which two people alternate rounds of chess with rounds of boxing.

“Basketball,” is what I say if you ask me. Basketball, for the uninitiated, is a sport in which teams of five players compete against each other in trying to score the most points by launching a rubber ball through a hoop mounted about 10 feet off the ground.

Chess boxing was invented by Dutch performance artist Iepe Rubingh. I can’t say for sure that it’s the only sport invented by a performance artist, but it just might be.

Basketball was invented by Canadian medical doctor James Naismith. I don’t know whether it is the only sport invented by a medical doctor. It seems entirely possible that it is not.

Bob was not very interested in sports as a child.

Neither was I. When I was very young, they bored me. When I was older, they were too mainstream, and I wanted to be different.

Bob is still not very interested in sports.

I was eventually seduced by March Madness, that weeks long basketball frenzy in which teams representing various American universities compete for the title of National Champion. It is a single elimination tournament, so every game is, as they say, win or go home. Young men who you hope are playing for the love the game, who mostly will soon go to medical school, enter the rental car industry, or possibly play professional basketball in other countries, run the court in a furor, knowing this could be it. This could be the last game, the one that ends the dream. The last chance to shine for one moment. It is a tournament where anything can happen, where upsets are guaranteed.

Iepe Rubingh is also known for his performance art pieces that involved stopping traffic in Berlin and then in Tokyo dressed in a yellow-and-black-striped joker costume. A joker bumblebee, almost. In Tokyo he served 10 days in jail for his art, while in Berlin he got off with a minor slap on the wrist.

Dr. James Naismith is also known for his service as a National Guard chaplain. The regiment he worked with was sent to the U.S./Mexico border after Pancho Villa invaded the United States in a raid on Columbus, New Mexico. Naismith had long since moved to the United States and eventually became a U.S. Citizen. His passion was keeping young people active and helping them live healthy lives.

There’s a sport out there for everyone.


Libby Kalmbach is a student in the Master of Arts in Writing and Publishing at DePaul University.

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