ESPN will kick off its annual “ESPN8: The Ocho” day of programming Thursday night on ESPN2.
Inspired by the fictional channel that broadcasts the finals in the classic 2004 movie “Dodgeball,” on Thursday night, Friday and Saturday morning ESPN2 will be rebranded as “The Ocho,” with programming including some of the most obscure sports to be found in competitive play.
Here are explanations for eight of the wackiest, most unknown and outright random events set to be shown:
Perhaps the strangest “sport” broadcasted on The Ocho — no easy feat given the competition — are the mullet championships. Occupying the 1:30 a.m. slot, the event features a showcase of some of the most brash and vintage hairstyles in the land. The winner is crowned Mullet Champ and is awarded a gilded trophy.
Picture a fusion of soccer and table tennis. That, in essence, is teqball. Featuring a specially curved table, the sport can be played both one-on-one or 2-on-2, and involves players rallying a soccer ball back and forth over a net using any part of their bodies but their hands and arms. One of the sports ambassadors? None other than one of the most skillful soccer players of all time in Ronaldinho.
The description of this sport is in the name. Onewheel racing is akin to your traditional BMX race, except instead of riding bikes, contestants ride onewheels. Think of a skateboard but with … well, one wheel. Riders navigate difficult terrain, ramps and more as they look to complete the course in the quickest time.
Excel world championship
For every spreadsheet wizard in the office out there, this is the sport for you. Featuring a knockout-style bracket, the excel championships pit the best of the best on Microsoft’s staple work program against each other, each vying to be the quickest to complete a variety of Excel-related tasks.
What happens when you put five competitors in slicked bodysuits at the bottom of a lubricated set of stairs? The sport of slippery stairs. Originating from a Japanese game show of the same name, slippery stairs tests athletes abilities to maintain their balance in a remarkably unforgiving environment. Tumbles are aplenty, and the first to ring the bell at the top of the stairs is crowned champion.
Joining teqball in the category of “sport derived in some degree from soccer,” omegaball is played with three goals and three teams. Played on a circular pitch, the game play is broadly akin to soccer, albeit with some minor tweaks. Notably, every ball out of play becomes a corner kick, play resumes immediately after goals (no center-pitch kickoffs) and there’s no offsides. In fact, omegaball’s official rules explicitly endorse cherry-picking as “encouraged.”
A professional spinoff on a longtime playground classic, world chase tag takes the schoolyard game up a notch. Played indoors on an obstacle-laden enclosure, chase tag requires players to be not just fast but also adept climbers. “Taggers” have 20 seconds to get to the “runner” in order to secure victory in their 1v1 rep.
A German sport that, in recent years, has made its way to America, steinholding is the final — and perhaps most obvious — submission to the “name literally explains the event” category. Steinholders are each given a full one-liter beer stein, and have to hold it out with a straight arm. The longest steinholder to maintain their form without dropping their arm (or the stein) is declared the champion. The current United States men’s record? Twenty-one minutes and 17 seconds, held by Michael Tyler since 2018.