Emory Report
November 16, 2009
Volume 62, Number 11


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November 16, 2009
Book is season pass to wackiest sports

By Kim Urquhart

From toe wrestling to lawn mower racing, Emory College junior Ben Kassoy spent weeks searching Google and combing the Woodruff Library to unearth the world’s most wacky, eclectic and extreme sports.

Author Michael J. Rosen, a mentor and friend from the Jewish community of Kassoy’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio, had asked the young athlete and aspiring writer to help him compile a humorous book about unusual games.

The result: “No Dribbling the Squid: Octopush, Shin Kicking, Elephant Polo, and Other Oddball Sports” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2009). The pocket-sized guide profiles more than 70 sports through concise, witty overviews, jaw-dropping statistics and up-close-and-personal photos.

“This is a book that will appeal to almost everyone,” Kassoy says. “You don’t have to be a sports fan — it’s more about spectacle, about fun, about wackiness, about pushing the limits of human creativity and, at times, human stupidity.”

Sports are a big part of life for Kassoy, who plays intramurals at Emory and performs with Skeleton Crew, among other activities. So naturally, sports with names like chess boxing, cheese rolling and swamp soccer piqued his curiousity.

The majority of the book took shape at Emory. Kassoy began researching as a freshman, wrote the first draft of the manuscript that summer, and was granted independent study credit from the English department sophomore year so that he could fold the writing time into his coursework.

The authors completed the project in January. “It was the ultimate collaboration,” Kassoy says, whose mentor Rosen had previously helped him publish a collection of humorous essays.

While he didn’t actually travel to, say, Finland for the World Sauna Championship, Kassoy found the research no less interesting. “It was exciting to see the power of human creativity. You have to get into the mind of the type of person who would take an ordinary game and make it totally unique and off-the-wall,” says Kassoy, who admits to having his own history of inventing games. (Knee soccer, anyone?)

Kassoy credits Rosen, and the support he received at Emory for the book, as helping him grow as a writer.
He’s already at work on his next project with Rosen, the forthcoming “Any Body’s Guess!: Quirky Quizzes About What Makes You Tick.”

Visit nodribblingthesquid.com to buy or learn more about the book, and to check out the “Featured Freaky Sport of the Week.”