Sports and recreation help us keep our mind and body stronger for everyday living and can improve quality of life. You might not realize, yet, that you don’t need to be an Olympian to try a new sport and have fun while doing it. Life is about creating memorable experiences. Sports can benefit you physically and mentally as well as help keep you entertained, healthy, happy, and maybe quench your thirst for competition. You might not even realize how much fun some sports can be until you try them. I took the liberty to do some work for you to find those fun and different sports that might keep you entertained, challenged, or happy… For Your Life™.
Before we start, let’s classify, “What is a sport?”
According to Oxford Dictionary, a sport is: An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.
As a side note, exertion is a relative term. I’d ask you, “Are golf, tennis, or frog jumping activities that cause exertion?” You can make your own determination, but no matter what you think about whether something is a sport or not, the key piece is “entertainment.” Sports have long been a way to stay entertained by the athlete and the spectator. To keep it fun, let’s explore 15 sports that might be fun, new, different, and challenging that you might not see on ESPN tonight. I listed these sports in order from easy entry point to more difficult and expensive entry point, so hopefully there is something for everyone on every budget and/or an option to rent the equipment to get out and play.
In this exciting sport, all you need is a playground and some friends. You run around and chase the other people to tag them. Once you tag them, you get a point. You can play to a set amount of points or you can play for time. Yes, you can even play “groundies.”(Groundies is when you play on a playground but the ground is out of bounds and you can not touch it) You can play this with adults, kids, or perfect strangers.
For those 21 years of age and older… maybe not wiser but definitely for the faster runners. You need minimal equipment and a track. It’s simple—drink an entire beer, run a lap, and repeat four times. Don’t barf, or you get disqualified. It is a fun event, but beware people have done this in just over four minutes. You need to be fast.
Obstacle Course Racing
There are a lot of options to choose from indoors or out. From American Ninja Warrior to Spartan to the less competitive but equally fun bubble run, muddy dash, or blacklight run, you can have a family fun experience and might get hooked to try more than one. The culture and camaraderie at these races are great. On a budget, you can create a backyard obstacle course with an egg on a spoon race, a burlap sack hop, or a wheelbarrow or three-legged race across a yard.
This fun way to play can be recreational or competitive. People of any age can pick up a bow and arrow and shoot indoors or outdoors. The precision and practice used when shooting arrows at a target can teach safety, competition, and hand-eye coordination that can be applied to other sports. If you want to explore fun ideas for summer camp, there are even some places to find camps for kids with archery included.
This is not as easy as it sounds, but it is way more fun than you think. This will get you thinking, running, laughing, working with others, and sweating. You will leave refreshed, exhilarated, and asking, “Can we play again next week?” There are leagues all over the Front Range, and they often play at local parks. Talk with your neighbors—sometimes you will find one that plays. It’s kind of an underground network of awesome good clean fun, except when you play on a muddy field.
Simple, functional, and supplemental to rock climbers. This fun activity includes balance, moving meditation, and it can build core strength and concentration. With an easy set up of a piece of webbing between two solid points, you can be up and playing in no time. You might get hooked and want to start practicing tricks and bouncing. This “not so mainstream” sport even made it into the Super Bowl Halftime Show alongside Madonna in 2012. If Madonna approves, I hope you would too.
You will usually need a gym membership here. You can usually borrow racquets and balls from the club or pick up equipment inexpensively at a sporting goods store or yard sale. This is a fast-paced game that was big in the 80s. Racquetball courts are going by the wayside, but if you can find one, it is a lot of fun to play. It will get you sweating if you really want to play hard, but wear eye protection. An extra credit point here goes to the people who play volleyball in racquetball courts, another good reason to keep those courts around.
This game is taking on a life of its own everywhere. It combines elements of badminton, ping-pong, and tennis. Pickleball is a fun, social sport that’s easy to learn and easy on your joints.
This is not a super high heart rate game, but it will keep you working on mental acuity and fun fitness at the same time. You can find local pick up games at parks, rec centers, and even pickleball-specific facilities. There are a lot of tennis courts marked for pickleball these days, too.
Rugby is not always for the faint of heart but often for the adventurous. You will often need to travel to play this one as games can be spread far and wide. It also can be a bit more expensive because of the after game parties, socializing, travel, and injury repairs. This can be a tough game but also lots of fun. Men and women can play, and it is a huge hit worldwide.
This is a great way to put a lot of people in a boat to see what happens. Spoiler: It goes fast. This is a great upper body workout, and almost anybody will enjoy the workout, the water, and the cool breeze. The people are fun, and the races are exciting to watch and participate in. There is a large dragon boat community on Sloan’s Lake in Denver, and you can even advance to the racing at the world level if you desire. It is not expensive to try and there are many community boats and clubs you can get involved with. Dues might vary by club but the link above has some great resources to explore.
A little simpler than dragon boat racing, rowing takes place on quiet lakes early in the morning in very expensive boats. You usually need to join a club for access to boats and you need to invest your early morning hours to row, like really early. You can row solo or with others, but it is peaceful and well worth the early wake up call. Another great cardio and upper body workout, and a little more of a workout than dragon boat racing.
This might not be as unique as others because many have done these at camp, on vacation, or somewhere else. They are challenging and fun, but can be kind of expensive to invest in a boat or board, so rent one and see if you like it first. It is such a nice way to get out on one of the local reservoirs or lakes, look at the mountains, and catch up on your balance, core, upper body, and coordination. You can even find stand-up paddleboard yoga if you want a real challenge.
This is where we get really expensive. You need a boat, a lake, a few people, gas, equipment, and more. There are clubs throughout Colorado, and you can contact them to try slalom, wakeboarding, wakesurfing, show skiing, and more. Much like rowing, if you want to ski, you need to get up early for the glassy water. It’s a lot of fun in the sun.
Yes, this is a real sport, it can have a high entertainment value. Don’t knock it until you try it. We all want to mow our lawns faster, so we can get on with our day. Let’s all learn something from these folks, and open our minds to how you can race just about anything. If you are serious about this one, please send me a message, and let me know how it goes. It looks like a lot of fun. Read the rules on their webpage, it seems like they are pretty serious, but it looks cool.
Several places have popped up over the years where you can go racing indoors. There is also a competitive circuit where people race outdoors nationally all over the country. This is another expensive sport if you dive into the competition class, but for the recreation class, you can get away with renting a cart at one of the local race facilities. Lots of fun and speed. Check out Gateway Park Fun Center in north Boulder.
Whatever you choose from the list above, another hobby, or sport for this summer, challenge your brain and body in new ways regularly. It is proven that exercise, new activities, and sports can improve brain function, memory, fitness, longevity, and quality of life. What are ways you can find fun with sports this summer and beyond? Entertainment in sports is the key, not just hard work and winning. Keep it fun, and you’ll keep at it.
Finally, if you happen to find slacklining, archery, lawn mower racing, or create and participate in a new “weird” sport, please let me know, I would love to check those out, share the ideas with others, or play them. Share your experiences at firstname.lastname@example.org.