Rick Reilly finds dumb sports, lives to tell them

Tue, May 4

ESPN.com columnist Rick Reilly went on a quest to find the dumbest sports in the world and he thinks he has found them.

"I'm the perfect person to write about them," he said.

The journey for Reilly, voted National Sportswriters of the Year 11 times, lasted 3½ years, spanned eight countries and culminated in the book titled "Sports From Hell."

Page 2 chatted with Reilly for a few minutes Tuesday, the day book about 13 dumb sports went on sale.

Why write this book?

"I had nothing left to cover and I had six months between jobs, so I looked for the dumbest sports I could find. I wanted to find sports that were dumb and the people who were playing them didn't know they were dumb. And hey, I could take a trip around the world! So I went. I went to Tahiti. I knew I couldn't find any stupid sports there but I could write the trip off! Go to Sri Lanka. Anything dumb there? Nothing. Write the trip off!"

Was there some place that surprised you?

It would have to be New Zealand. That place blew my mind. Instead of just bungee jumping, you bungee jump out of a helicopter. Instead of bungee jumping over a lake, you jump over a volcano. It's because you can't sue in that country. There is no personal injury in New Zealand. We got inside a 12-foot rubber ball and we were shoved down a ski slope. It was insane.

What sport do you think could catch on?

I would say ferret legging. That's where you try to see how long you can keep a ferret down your pants. Mine was so tender and loving. But this women next to me got chewed up. Her leg looked like ground beef. The EMTs were in horror. The woman didn't know you could tap out. She was eaten alive. Her leg looked like a science fiction movie.

How is writing this book different than your others?

With a book like this, you have to immediately purge your every thought you have on your computer. It doesn't matter if it takes 10 minutes or two hours. You will never remember it like you do at that moment. Then you go for drinks. That's why I like to write on airplanes. When you're stuck in 12B, you can't clean out the gutters. You're trapped. That's when I do my best writing.

You sound like it's hard writing. Is it?

I would rather have bamboo shoots in my finger nails. I hate to write. I love having written. I love the sausage, but I don't want to make the sausage. One time in a press room it was 10 minutes until deadline, I stood up and said, 'I will trade jobs with anyone who is finished.' I hate it that much.