Is orienteering the daggiest sport on earth? In 2014 Clare and I dug deep to come up with an answer...

it's not you, it's me. and my sport, Part I

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

I'm in Melbourne and I'm staying with Clare.  

Whilst here, we have been bemoaning the fact that whilst orienteering is a great sport, which we love, and which shaped our lives, and sent us around the world, and given us some of our greatest friends (and in my case a lovely husband) it may in fact possibly be the daggiest sport in the world.  This is due to the following reasons:


  • Very uncool race-wear (the standard outfit resembles nylon pyjamas which have either shrunk or expanded to sacklike proportions in the wash). The alternative outfit is full length lycra worn in unfortunate colours by the over 50s.
  •  (typical race-wear)
  • You need a map. I can't think of any other sport which requires you to refer to a sweaty, bloodstained piece of paper as you compete.  And what's worse is that paper maps are now just historical curiosities to regular folk so you aren't even going to impress anyone with your map reading skills anymore.  
  • Cloth Badges. For some crazy reason most Australian orienteering clubs & event organisers think that after 3 or 4 days of hard competition, hundreds of dollars spent in entry fees, thousands or dollars spent in travel and countless hours of training,  ultimate success could be represented by the cloth badge you got for coming first (or 2nd or 3rd). This particular attribute seems to be unique to Australia, as I got heaps of cool and useful prizes when I won or placed in events in Norway. 

  • Lack of public profile.  Many years ago I stopped trying to explain what orienteering was to strangers. In fact when asked why I was travelling somewhere I just claimed it was for soccer - as everyone knew what that was. Also if you have to justify your sport by saying 'it's big in [insert alternative country], you know it's marginal at best in your own backyard.
  • The fact that you often return to work or school covered in scratches sustained from orienteering that make it look like you've fought off a rabid cat, or at the very least fallen into some blackberries does not make for a desirable sport - that doesn't necessarily make it daggy but the fact that you look like you might have some contageous skin disease does take away from the appeal of the sport to casual observers.


So - back to the our orienteering the daggiest sport in the world? I put it to you that the answer is no, because surely Radio-Orienteering, Trail-Orienteering, MTB-Orienteering, Street-Orienteering, Ski-Orienteering, and the related sports & activites of geo-chaching & rogaining are WAY more daggy.  Ok - so yeah, they are very closely related to orienteering and in fact by suggesting that they are even more daggy is really just proving the original point that orienteering is the daggiest sport on earth.   

So this led Clare and I to challenge ourselves to come up with 10 other sports that were definitely daggier than orienteering.  You'll have to check back for my next post to discover how we went..

It's not you, it's me. and my sport Part II

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The task of uncovering sports which were more daggy than orienteering was challenging and arduous. It took us two full evenings (interspersed with a swim at Fitzroy Pool and dinner at a very cool place on some cool street that was so popular we had to wait half an hour in the almost-as-cool bar next door before we could get a table) and numerous texts, however we are happy to reveal that we have had some success.

Before we begin to expose these sports we must mention some criteria - it's not just the fact that it's an obscure sport that makes a sport daggy - cliff diving for example is quite obscure, but not daggy.   It's a combination of things which may include but is not limited to:   unpopularity, subjective scoring, dorky uniforms or equipment and  complicated rules and just plain ridiculousness.   As I've discussed previously, orienteering is blessed with a wealth of daggy attributes making it quite hard to beat.

It's also important to point out that I don't think any of these sports mentioned below are not worthy & fulfilling sports. Just like orienteering they all require a specific combination of skill, endurance, speed, strength, intellect etc etc in order to do them well.  I love all sports (except maybe sport shooting & golf). Good on anyone for playing anything I recon. 

So. Back to it - Clare and I decided that sports gained street cred (i.e. non-daggy-points) by being an olympic sport.  they also gained street cred if they gave you an enviable body - for example Clare discovered a competition sport called 'street workout' which has some street cred despite the fact that it is really just competitive monkey-bars, because the track suitted participants had very very strong looking bodies.   

We decided that you automatically lose street cred (or gain daggy points) if your sport is subjectively judged, or you were required to wear make-up or sequins during competition  - Including waterproof make-up or sequins -(hello synchronised swimming).

Weapons add to your sport's street cred - which is good for sports like wood chopping. When testing for dagginess I imagined conversations that a 10year old version of myself would have had with classmates  describing the sport  - at the very mention of razor-sharp axe,  my classmates would have gasped in awe. You don't get that reaction when you mention you need a razor sharp mind (and a compass ) to compete at orienteering.

The other criteria was that the sport must be something you can do in Australia.  Ideally you'd be able to join a local club but at the very least it would be possible to train and compete individually. This ruled out a great many obscure Russian sports which we found and other localised events like bog snorkelling and cheese rolling.

I also must reveal that the list of sports that are contested at the World Games (the non-olympic sports equivalent of the olympic games) proved to be quite a handy reference.  Here happened to find two of my favourite sports (orienteering of course, and ultimate frisbee) as well as plenty of other candidates for worlds daggiest sport.

So.  The results.. Well our mission was to find ten sports which were daggier than orienteering.  Unfortunately we only found two that I think are certainly MORE daggy.  We did however find a number of sports which are at least AS daggy, so let's start with them..

Sports that are as at least as daggy as orienteering  (in vague order of dagginess) :

(apologies to all those I have borrowed images from without asking) 

  • Fin Swimming

  • Underwater Hockey

  • Competitive Kettle Ball check it out
  • Race Walking (note they were only  saved from being MORE daggy than orienteering by virtue of being an Olympic sport)

  • Irish Dancing (funny outfits, wigs, funny zombie-esk dancing)

  • Baton Twirling

  • Marching Band

  • Surf Kayaking

  • Canoe Polo

  • Competitive Aerobics
  • Trampolining (yes I know it's an olympic sport but most people associate it with backyard trampolines and sit-drops) - it just doesn't have the status of gymnastics
  • Synchronised anything - yes we're looking at you Synchronised diving, swimming, skydiving..and in anycase every man, woman and child in North Korea would be probably be better at it than we are: check it out
  • Remote control anything racing (cars, boats, planes..)
  • Street Workout / Calisthetics 
And the winners of the prestigious This-Sport-Is-Definitely-More-Daggy-Than-Orienteering award?  You'll have to wait until tomorrow..

it's not you, it's me. and my sport Part II (b)

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Clare pointed out that another indicator that your sport is perhaps a little daggy is when it's commonly misunderstood by the general public (those that have heard of it anyway).

Just as an aside, I work surrounded by arty folk (including plenty of writers) so I often have to restrain myself from making a fuss when sports are misrepresented in scripts (it's normally too late by the time I read the script anyway) - for example I recently read a script which described an aerial manoeuvre as including 2 and a 1/2 pikes (as opposed to 2 and a 1/2 somersaults in the pike position).

A previous animated series we did included a lot of basketball and aside from constantly reminding the animators to not have the players dribble the ball with two hands, I remember a storyline where a cheerleader accidentally fell onto the court, tripping up a player who had the ball. This resulted in the player receiving fouls shots, which of course resulted in them winning the game in the dying seconds. What the? If I was the other team I would have been plenty pissed off - especially as the cheerleader actually belonged to the winning team!!  

Anyway - back to orienteering and TV.. this seems to be the perfect storyline platform for misadventure.  Typically on TV (in a series I've been involved with and also totally 2 unrelated shows I've seen recently including the really good ABC 3 series Lost Boys), unwilling participants are teamed up in miss-matched social groups and forced to go orienteering with nothing but a map, compass, and set of co-ordinates.    Can I just say here that orienteering has absolutely NOTHING to do with co-ordinates. Nethertheless this setup provides the perfect platform for misadventure and hijinks (hence it's common use) - generally for the unfortunate participants, things go terribly wrong when they lose the map, roll an ankle, or the gps devices in their phones stop working.  And then of course it gets dark...

Can I just say here that orienteering is generally an indiviual sport, the courses are typically more like 1 hour long than 1 day long, gps devices are not allowed, and to be competitive you need to be really fit, and you need to be fast - the best orienteers are also regular fun-run winners and perform well at national 5k/10k track events. Sure you 'could' walk, just like you could walk a fun run or a cross country race or a marathon. Anyway - I could defend orienteering all day but as I mentioned before, all daggy sports have redeeming features and are undoubtably really great fun to play.

So anyway. Today at the physio I was discussing how I wanted to get my back better so I could be right by the upcoming Australian Easter 3-day Orienteering races in NSW.

Physio: "Yep you should be right for that. There's plenty of time and it's just walking"

Me: "It's running"

Physio (dismissively): "Well.. a bit of everything"

Me (internally): um a bit of everything do you mean like what? swimming? knitting? 

Me (audibly): mmm.. 




it's not you, it's me. and my sport Part III

Thursday, 6 March 2014

So without further ado I am pleased to announce that the winner of the this-sport-is-definitely-more-daggy-than-orienteering competition is… drum roll…

this one. [trust me, just click on the link - no further explanation will be required]
if you survived that, then have a read of this.

So I'm sure you'll agree it's a worthy winner. There is the tiny little problem that it's not really a live sport anymore (interestingly enough I discovered that previous junior superstars of the sport actually went on to win medals in other events at Sochi - proving again that even the daggiest of sports is worthy). But back to the problem that it's not really a sport anymore..luckily we have an emergency backup sport…

Korfball. Korfball has a number of classic daggy indicators. Firstly no-one's ever heard of it, secondly, it's big in Europe - in fact I discovered there's even an semi professional Dutch team there. Thirdly it has a funny sounding name that doesn't give any indication of what the sport is about, forthly it has a funny basket thing, fifthly it's mixed - I just can't take a sport seriously that plays in a mixed format at the highest level - socially sure, internationally.. nup…  sixthly you'd probably never ever meet anyone who knew what it was, although from my research your chances of not having to explain it would be increased if you lived in SA. (always the progressive state!).  

Korfball has the problem of being very similar in game-play to netball, which we all know is huge in Australia. It would take some heavyweight marketing from the korfball association (and probably some sort of physical torture) to convince young sportspeople that they'd be better off playing a Dutch sport no-one has heard of with a funny name rather than signing up for netball where they could aspire to the Commonwealth Games and maybe even the um.. World Games, or possibly even score a part in an advertisement for Lean-Cuisine.  I guess in either sport you wouldn't make any money (unless you played for that Dutch Korfball team) but that's a whole other kettle of gender-related fish I won't even start on.

What korfball does have going for it is that like most of the other daggy sports it looks fun to play, and you get to wear a relatively normal uniform. So if you stopped to get petrol on your way home from a game of korfball the service station attendant would assume you had just played soccer or basketball, as opposed to suspecting you had been thrown out of clown school because you shrunk your costume in the wash.  

Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any korfball organisation in Tasmania so I can't add it to my list of obscure sports in which I'm quite competent. Luckily for Clare it looks like she can join a local Victorian club however i think she has her sights set on something else.. 

In fact if you haven't been across to read Clare's blog you should head on over now as she's been writing about the same topic simultaneously and you'll see why she's the actual published author (get it now from amazon) and I'm better suited to Royal Tennis.


Oh, and the prize for being the worlds daggiest sport that's playable in Australia...?



Oh - and after a flood that swept under our house a few years after we wrote this, I stumbled across someone who did actually sew their badges on.. 

Going through the boxes

Thursday, 31 May 2018

While the under-house area is drying out, Jon and I have been sorting through all the boxes of stuff we brought upstairs.

Mostly it's been photos and trophies and an awful lot of Christmas decorations but amongst it all Jon has found some gems from the 80s & 90s, including his SA Junior Orienteering tracksuit..


complete with the badges he won and sewed on himself..


I found this old article. Imagine a time when an ankle injury to a junior orienteer could make it into the newspaper..clearly they had too many sports reporters back in those days!


Basically the article was about me being worried that my stress fracture would jeopardise my chances of making the Australian Team for the Junior World Championships. I notice even dad got a quote... 


Spoiler Alert - I made the team.  But as dad suspected, due to limited preparation and a lot of cadbury's fundraising chocolate I wasn't that fit in Sweden . Nethertheless it was great fun and changed my life as I met a) Jon and b) the au pair of Harald and Linda.

Clare was also mentioned in relation to the 'intensive' training camp held just after the selection trials..


Although the only intensive part of the camp I remember (just) was the intensive night of celebratory drinking on the first night. (kids i hope you aren't reading this).

Anyway - Jon found the glasses he wore to a party back in the 90s.. very cool.  We also found a photo of the actual event but he's living it up in Stockholm at the moment so I'm not sure where that picture ended up.


I also found evidence of my short lived sailing career. This was the pocket of the expensive blazer we had to wear in the Tasmanian team that travelled to nationals in Glenelg. I also remember that we had to wear blue wooden clogs, skirts and white shirts.  Very fancy.  


I was a forward hand rather than the skipper of the boats I went to nationals with. I did end up with my own boat - a tired old thing called 'Birubi' but it was impossible to compete against all the people with new sails every year (mine were 10 years old), so in about 1986 I sold the boat and used the money to go to my first interstate orienteering event in SA. Hmm.. maybe Jon was at that event sporting his fancy new red tracksuit !