Ba', Ba', Black Eyes
You can kick, punch, head-butt, break down doors and even run through houses. Welcome to the ancient game of Ba' - the roughest and toughest game on earth.
Where? When? Who?
Ba' is played in the town of Kirkwall which is on one of the Orkney Islands in Scotland. The two teams are the Uppies (who live on the north side of the town) and the Doonies (who live on the south side.) The game is played twice a year - on Christmas Day and New Year's Day starting at 1 PM.
Basically there are no rules, except one. The Doonies have to dunk the ba' (a three pound leather ball) into the water of Kirkwall's harbor to win, while the Uppies have to touch the ba' to a wall at the south end of the town. It's kinda like a big game of rugby played on the town's streets. Anything goes: you can kick people, smash out windows or climb over roof tops. Each team can have as many players as they want, usually about 300. There are no referees, no penalties and the game can go on for hours and hours. The usual injuries include concussions, crushed ribs and broken legs. This ain't no sport for pansies.
How It Started
It's kinda unclear how this wild game of mob-ball started. One story says that about a thousand years ago two groups of vikings on the island kicked around the cut-off head of a hated enemy. They had so much fun kicking around the guy's noggin that they made it a tradition. Back then they used the head of an unlucky prisoner, but now they just use a leather ball.