Combo Sports: When Two Sports Become One

FootGolf is played on golf courses with slight modifications. Players kick regulation soccer balls into a 21-inch hole. (Carlos Osorio/AP)
FootGolf is played on golf courses with slight modifications. Players kick regulation soccer balls into a 21-inch hole. (Carlos Osorio/AP)

The other week we brought you the story of Red Whittington, a three-time disc golf world champion. What's disc golf? Well, it's scored like golf, but instead of putting a ball into a hole, players throw a Frisbee-like disc into a metal basket. Whittington's story left us wondering about other hybrid sports that have gained popularity. Here are four examples:


As traditional golf courses across the U.S. shutter, a new sport has begun pulling people back to the links: it’s called FootGolf, a combination of golf and soccer.

Played on a modified golf course, participants use their feet to kick a regulation-sized soccer ball into a cup that's 21-inches in diameter. More than 250 courses have been constructed around the country, the bulk of them at golf clubs.

Vice Sports reported that one course in California sold 200,000 rounds last year. The sport is inexpensive compared to golf — clubs aren't needed, and the price of a round is usually less than $20.

Although the origin of the sport is somewhat unclear, the general understanding is that FootGolf began in the Netherlands. The first Dutch championship took place in 2009. In six years, the sport has spread throughout Europe and the Americas (28 countries now belong to the main governing body).

With a large talent pool of former soccer plays, Argentina is considered the world’s top country — and some players have even landed sponsorship deals. The South American country will host the 2016 World Cup.

FootGolfers are required to wear a uniform during official American FootGolf League tournaments and events. Per the AFGL website:

"Typical wear is a flat (Hogan style) cap, collared shirt, golf style pants, knickers or shorts, knee high argyle socks and indoor or turf soccer shoes. This style is not required all the time but, for an official AFGL tournament and events, it is required."


Played on a ping pong table, Headis is like table tennis or badminton with a twist. Instead of using paddles or rackets, players use their heads to bat a seven-inch rubber ball.

Each game is played to 11 points, but a player must win by two to take the set. Any body part can touch the table, but only a player's head can touch the ball.

A German college student, René Wegner, invented the sport in 2006. He and his friends were trying to play soccer, but, when the local field was occupied, they instead took over a nearby ping pong table and began heading a small rubber ball  back and forth. Two years later, Wegner's school, the University of Saarbrücken, made Headis part of its sports program. That same year, the first country-wide tournament was held.

The Wall Street Journal reported last year that 20 German universities had integrated Headis into their sports programs and that 2,000+ Headis balls were sold in 2014.

Besides Germany, Headis has also been played in England, Spain, Luxembourg and France.

Chess Boxing

Chess Boxing is a hybrid sport where brawn meets pawn. In 11 alternating rounds, two contestants compete in six rounds of chess and five rounds of boxing. The winner is decided by checkmate, knockout or referee's decision. Rounds last for three minutes and are followed by a 60-second break for changing gear.

After reading a comic book that featured the sport, Iepe Rubingh brought it to life in 2003. Rubingh, who was a performance artist before turning chess boxer, won the first ever World Chess Boxing championship in 2003.

Twelve years after its birth, the sport can now be found in India, Great Britain, Russia, Italy and the United States.

Underwater Hockey

Underwater Hockey (or "Octopush") was originally designed to keep members of a diving club in the water in winter when it was too cold for the ocean.

Created in England in 1954, Underwater Hockey is most similar to water polo and ice hockey. Usually played in a 50-meter pool, the object of the game is to get a three-pound, lead puck into the opposing team's goal. Matches consist of two 10- or 15-minute halves.

Participants are outfitted with a snorkel, fins and a mask. Most of the action takes place at the bottom of the pool. To maneuver the puck, players use a small stick or pusher.

Twelve players are in the pool at a time, with six from each side. Teams can have upwards of 10 players, as substitutes are continuously cycled into the action.

Since its birth over 60 years ago, the game has gone global. World Championships began in 1980 and are played every two years. In the 2013, a record 68 teams from 19 countries competed in six different categories.

On the men's side, France is the current reigning champ, while New Zealand holds the title for women.

What are we missing? Let us know your favorite hybrid sport in the comment section below:



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