The alternative student olympics

Swifter, higher, stronger. The Olympic motto has never been more apt – with London 2012 next up, now is the time to go for gold with our alternative events, says Dan Poole

Sebastian Coe will be proud of us. With the feast of sport that was the Beijing Olympics having been and gone, thoughts now turn to London’s offering in 2012. All over the country, British hopefuls are getting up at 5am to train and put their bodies through a living hell, all so they can be there on that starting line in four years’ time. Now, readers, you can join them in this noble cause.

Just as it was in 776BCE when the first ever Olympics took place in Athens, the unveiling of the SSG modern pentathlon will go down in history as a momentous occasion. Over the next four pages you’ll find the rules to some of the most punishing and inspiring sports you can play… in halls.

So, with true Olympian spirit we urge you to go out there and test yourself against your fellow freshers to discover who should stand atop the podium and sing the SSG anthem (we haven’t actually got one, but suggestions are welcome). On your marks, set…





Tabletop football

Equipment required

3 two-pence coins 1 table with flat surface and square edges

Number of players

Two

How to play

Flip one of the coins to decide who goes first. Player One, who is kicking off, places the coins in a triangular formation on the table in front of them, with one of the coins balanced over the edge of the table. Player One then uses the heel of their hand, fingers pointing to the floor, to push the coin that is resting over the edge of the table through the two coins in front. They then proceed by using a finger or fingers pushing one coin at a time through the gap that has been created by the other two coins.

Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the table, Player Two has made a goal using the index finger and little finger of one hand resting on the tabletop and their middle two fingers under the table. Once Player One feels that they are in a scoring position, they shoot at goal using the same method they have used to move up the table thus far. A goal is scored if the coin that was used for the shot goes in between the “posts” and hits the middle knuckles of Player Two.

Who wins?

Decide on a winning total of goals: SSG would suggest five, or 10 if you’re feeling particularly adventurous/bored.

Referee!

When a coin is pushed through the gap between the other two coins it must go all the way through, leaving enough room for the next coin to go through the new gap created. If any coins touch during a turn – apart from the initial “push-off” – that turn ends. If any coin falls off the table at any point during a player’s turn, that turn ends. Players may take as many shots at goal as they like, as long as the above rules are adhered too.

London 2012 calling?

Tabletop football requires skill and tactical awareness. As a result, we believe it’s certain to be included as a recognised Olympic sport for 2012.



Table-top rugby

Equipment required

1 two-pence coin 1 table with flat surface and square edges

Number of players

Two.

How to play

Flip the coin to decide who goes first. Player One, who is kicking off, balances the coin over the edge of the table nearest to them. They then have three attempts within their turn to move the coin to the opposite end of the table, so that it is again balancing over the edge. The first attempt is taken by using the heel of the hand, fingers pointing to the floor, to push the coin forward. The subsequent two attempts are taken by pushing the coin forward with a finger or fingers.

Should Player One be successful in balancing the coin over the edge of the opposite edge of the table, they then attempt to score a try. This is achieved by placing the tip of their index finger beneath the part of the coin that is balancing over the edge of the table. The coin then has to be flicked into the air and caught in the same hand that was used to flick the coin upwards.

Should Player One succeed in doing this, they take a conversion. Player Two creates the goal by using their thumbs and index fingers: their index fingers placed fingertip-first on the edge of the table to form the posts and their thumbs touching – at a right angle to their fingers – to form the crossbar. Player One then spins the coin on the table and has to trap it between their two thumbs before it stops spinning. If the coin is trapped, a conversion is scored if the coin is successfully catapulted between the posts and over the crossbar.

Who wins?

A try is worth five points; a conversion is worth two points. Decide on a winning total of points. SSG recommends 21, or 42 if you’re feeling particularly daring/bored.

Referee!

A player does not necessarily have to use all three attempts to get the coin to the other end of the table. If the coin falls off the table at any point during a player’s turn, that turn ends. Be careful not to take the opposition’s eye out when attempting a conversion – that’s basic tabletop rugby etiquette.

London 2012 calling?

The rate of scoring can be quite a bit slower than tabletop rugby’s sister game, tabletop football, which may not work in its favour.



Corridor cricket

Equipment required

1 cricket bat (or a tennis racket will do the job) 1 tennis ball, or foam ball of a similar size 1 plastic wicket or substitute wicket: a bin or chair, for example

Number of players

Minimum of two, maximum of six.

How to play

Find a corridor in your halls of residence that is empty, and free of any breakable objects. Player One is the batsman, Player Two is the bowler. If there are additional players (how many may be dictated by the width and length of the corridor being used), Player Three stands behind the wickets as a wicketkeeper, Player Four covers behind the wicketkeeper, and Players Five and Six provide fielding cover behind the bowler.

Player Two bowls the ball to player one (whether this action is performed over-arm or under-arm will be dictated by bowler preference and height of corridor). Player One must attempt to play the ball. Should Player One miss the ball and it hits neither the wicket nor is judged to be leg before wicket (LBW), Player One stays in and scores a point.

If Player One puts bat to ball and the ball is not caught and does not hit the wicket, Player One stays in and scores a point.

However, if Player One puts bat to ball and the ball is caught – without hitting the ground – by any of the outfield players, Player One is out. If Player One does not hit the ball and the ball hits the wicket or is judged to be LBW, Player One is out.

Who wins?

The player with the most points. Each player takes it in turns being the batsman. Once everyone has had a turn at being the batsman, the winner is the player with the most points. In the event of a tie, the tied players take it in turns bowling the ball at the wicket from an agreed distance. If a player misses, they are out of the game, until one player is left victorious.

Referee!

There must be a bowling action; simply throwing the ball at full pelt towards the wicket is not allowed. LBW calls are obviously tricky without a recognised umpire, so players on all sides must rely on honesty. The LBW rule is also far too time-consuming to explain here to the uninitiated, so please refer to this very long website address, www.lords.org/laws-and-spirit/laws-ofcricket/ laws/law-36-leg-beforewicket, 62,AR.html, for full details on that one.

London 2012 calling?

Cricket hasn’t been played at the Olympics since 1900 and isn’t expected to feature again until at least 2020, so the likelihood of this version of the game being considered in four years’ time is, at best, slim.



Beer mat flipping

Equipment required

20 beer mats (should players prove to be particularly adept, more may be required. If beer-mats are unavailable, playing cards can be substituted), 1 table with flat surface and square edges

Number of players

A minimum of two.

How to play

All players should agree on a starting number of beer mats to flip. Each player then takes it in turns to flip that number of mats. The beer mats should be balanced over the edge of the table nearest the player attempting to flip them. They are then flipped vertically with the back of the hand, using an upward movement. The beer mats, having turned 180 degrees in the air, should then be caught in the same hand without any of them touching the table or falling to the floor. Each player has two attempts during each round. Once a round has finished, successful players move on to the next round and so on, adding an agreed number of beer mats to the pile each time.

Who wins?

The player who is able to flip the most beer mats. In the event of a tie, players have one attempt to flip the number of beer mats that have resulted in the tied score. If a player is unsuccessful they are out of the game, and the process continues until one player emerges victorious.

Referee!

All the beer mats must leave the surface of the table when they are flipped. Any soggy beer mats should be replaced immediately.

London 2012 calling?

The incremental nature of the sport is not dissimilar to field events such as the pole vault or high jump. However, the association with alcohol could see the sport dismissed by the International Olympic Committee – a blow to flippers everywhere.



Card tossing

Equipment required

1 pack of playing cards 1 bin (with its lid removed, if it has one) or similar receptacle: a washing basket, for example

Number of players

A minimum of two; a maximum of 13.

How to play

All the cards are handed out until all players have the same number each; any additional cards are put to one side. Players should all sit or stand an agreed distance from the bin. Players then take it in turns to attempt to toss their cards, one at a time, into the bin.

Who wins?

The player who gets the most cards into the bin. In the event of a tie, players take it in turns attempting to get one card into the bin from an agreed distance. If a player is unsuccessful, they are out. This continues until one player emerges as the winner.

Referee!

Players should maintain an agreed distance from the bin at all times; any deliberate encroachment will see a player automatically ejected from the game. Also, make sure the bin is empty. Fishing cards out of unidentified gooey stuff is far from pleasant.

London 2012 calling?

We think this has enough going for it in terms of the technique and nerve required by those involved to make it an odds-on favourite for the capital event. Yes, you heard it here first.



Equipment check

The following items should be available somewhere on site at your halls of residence, or other furnished living quarters:

  • 1 table with flat surface and square edges
  • 1 chair
  • 1 bin

The remaining items can be purchased as follows:

  • 3 two-pence coins. Have a look in your wallet or purse. Failing that, have a look in a friend’s wallet or purse. Failing that, have a look down the back of the sofa. Price: £0.06
  • 1 cricket bat (or tennis racket) If you haven’t already got one, it’s a bit excessive to buy a Kookaburra or Slazenger in this instance. Much better a cheap one from your local toy shop. Price: Around £5
  • 1 tennis ball or foam ball Somewhere like Poundland will do the trick. Price: Um, around £1
  • 1 plastic wicket You can probably pick up one of these when you get your cricket bat. Price: Around £3
  • 20 beer mats If your local pub won’t give you some for free, you can pick some up online very reasonably. Price: Around £1.50
  • 1 pack of playing cards Your local toy shop is going to be doing a roaring trade… Price: Around £2.50

Total cost £13.06



Web aid

Well we don't really have any more help for you. But why not e-mail us at student@independent.co.uk to let us know how your pentathlon goes, and give us any suggestions you have for more sports to be added to the list. The best might even appear on the website…



www.independent.co.uk/student

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