Recently, while scrolling through the deep dark void that is social media, I stumbled upon one of the craziest sports to ever be played on this planet. I’m not talking about the crazy shit that went on hundreds of years ago; I am talking about a popular sport that is currently being played to this day. For those of you who aren’t well versed in the Middle Eastern sports world, Buzkashi is a deadly sport where players who are armed with whips compete on horseback to score in the opponent’s goal. I know what you’re thinking, this is just a central Asian version of polo, but you’re missing a crucial aspect of this great game. What makes Buzkashi so insane is that the object that players need to score with is the carcass of a headless goat.
The game originated as a way to see who was the best at herding animals, and the goat symbolizes this aspect of farming and dealing with livestock. When I first came across this I was pretty surprised that they still use a goat to this day. After some research, I learned that Buzkashi literally translates into goat polo. Taking the goat out of Buzkashi would be like taking the ball out of basketball. That is something that would be detrimental to the sport. While I understand why they don’t substitute a ball, some of the clips I’ve seen of people racing down the field with the goat are absolutely bonkers.
Surprisingly, this isn’t some niche game that no one knows about. Believe it or not, the sport is played all across Central Asia. Specifically, Buzkashi is extremely popular in Afghanistan where it is not only their national sport but they also have multiple leagues. They even have variations of the game. There is a formal version of the game in which boundaries are drawn, and there is an informal version of the with no boundaries. The games with no boundaries are basically just played in an open field or on the side of a mountain. When a player successfully scores the goat into a goal they are deemed the victor, but the madness doesn’t end there. The prizes for the winner can range anywhere from a rug to a camel. The sport has even made its way to countries like China.
This sport seems to get crazier and crazier the more I look into it. There are countless clips of Buzkashi all over the internet and I guarantee you will not be disappointed if you check them out. If I am ever anywhere near Central Asia you can bet your ass I will be finding my way to the nearest Buzkashi match.