5 sports you can see at The World Games 2021 Birmingham, including Sumo


Sumo is one of the sports at The World Games 2021 Birmingham. Photo courtesy of The World Games

If you’ve started seeing The World Games 2021 Birmingham signs popping up around town, you may be wondering what it’s all about. Here are some of the basics plus a sneak preview into five sports you’ll be able to catch when The Games come to town July 15-25, 2021. Want the full scoop? Check out The World Games 2021 Birmingham.

The World is Coming to Birmingham.

Imagine having an Olympic-style sports extravaganza right here in the Magic City. That’s what’ll happen in July 2021.

Here are some mind-boggling stats for you, and The Games aren’t even here yet:

  • 3,600 elite athletes
  • from more than 100 countries
  • playing 30+ unique sports
  • at multiple venues in the Greater Birmingham area

All of them will be competing for the gold, and we’ll be able to show them some Southern hospitality.

The World Games 2021 Birmingham will be the 40th anniversary of The Games, hosted by the International World Games Association.

Visit The World Games 2021 Birmingham to learn more.

1. You’ll be able to watch softball at The World Games 2021.

Softball at The World Games
Maria Soto from Venezuela throws herself at the base in front of Lidbet Castello from Cuba in the Softball final at the Baseball Diamond at the Cali World Games 2013. Tuesday July 30th 2013, Colombia. Cuba won and got the gold medal. Colombia was third and got the bronze. Photo: Coldeportes/Archivolatino

Believe it or not, softball is a major spectator sport at The World Games. Who doesn’t love this game that’s enjoyed steady popularity for decades with women’s and work teams everywhere.

When The World Games 2021 comes to Birmingham, we can all learn from the pros.

2. Lacrosse fans, you’re in luck.

Lacrosse Canada vs. Australia. Photo courtesy of The World Games

Apparently lacrosse is one of the fastest-growing sports in Alabama, mostly in Birmingham and Huntsville. That said, if you’re a player or a fan, this’ll be a good one to watch.

This one’s a team sport played with a stick and a ball, similar to hockey, except the ball isn’t on the ground. Men and women will be playing lacrosse in Birmingham at The Games, and we can’t wait!

3. Sport Climbing will be a sight to see at The Games.

sport climbing
No, this picture isn’t upside-down—Sport Climbing Bouldering. Photo courtesy of The World Games

If you hadn’t noticed, we’re quite the fans of climbing here at Bham Now. We’re excited to check out sport climbing at The World Games. These athletes combine technical skill, endurance and grace to scale surfaces that make others among us squeamish.

All the sport climbing happens on artificial walls. You’ll be able to see lead climbing, speed climbing and bouldering at The Games.

If you’re itching to try climbing for yourself, check out this piece on women climbers in Birmingham and how to get involved. And, for lovers of outdoor climbing we have this one on where to climb within two hours of Birmingham.

4. You’ll be able to get your Korfball fix.

Korball. Photo courtesy of The World Games

Never heard of korball? We hadn’t either, but apparently it’s common in The Netherlands, where it started. It’s kind of a cross between basketball (contact) and netball (non-contact).

Teams have eight players, with four guys and four women. Players try to get the ball into a basket that looks almost exactly like a basketball goal except for the fact that it’s mounted on an 11.5 foot pole.

Half the players are on each side of the court, which is called a zone. After two goals, teams switch sides (zones) and roles (offense and defense switch).

Players pass the ball to one another to move it up the court. Unlike basketball, you can’t dribble, walk or run with the ball, but you can pivot with one foot on the ground.

Here’s the list of what’s not allowed in korfball:

  • tackling
  • blocking
  • holding
  • kicking the ball

5. Sumo is part of The World Games 2021.

Sumo at The World Games
In sumo wrestling you knock your opponent out of the ring or down. Photo courtesy of The World Games

Until a few minutes ago, my knowledge of Sumo was limited to the loincloth big guys wear and fake Sumo suits.

After digging into this history of the sport, here’s what I learned:

The loincloth is called “mawashi,” and women (yes, there are women sumo wrestlers—who knew?) get to wear leotards underneath.

One wrestler tries to get the other one down on the ground or out of the circle.

The long list of things-not-to-do includes the following:

  • punching
  • poking
  • kicking the chest or abdomen
  • pulling hair
  • grabbing the throat
  • grabbing clothing other than the mawashi
  • grabbing the front pouch of the mawashi
  • bending back the opponent’s fingers
  • biting
  • slapping the opponent’s face with an arm outstretched more than shoulder-width (slapping is not in fact off-limits)

Bouts last less than a minute, and sometimes just a few seconds.

An elaborate ritual based in the Shinto religion precedes each match.

Intriguing, isn’t it?

The World Games 2021 Birmingham sports
Some of the 30+ sports that will be at The World Games 2021 Birmingham. Graphic via The World Games

We’re excited to learn more as The Games get closer.

Curious about what other sports you’ll be able to watch at The World Games 2021 Birmingham? Check out the full list.

Follow The World Games 2021 to stay in the loop: Website | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter.

Now tell us, Birmingham, what are you most looking forward to about The World Games 2021? Tag us on social @bhamnow and let us know.

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Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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