Ah, the finer things in life. Nothing like sitting back, saddling up on a horse and spending an afternoon with your friends playing a good game of polo. Maybe it’s the thrill of rushing at the other players en mount, or maybe it’s the competition that really scratches that itch no other sport seems to be able to relieve.
Or maybe it’s the feeling you get when you finally get that damn dead, headless carcass of a goat (or calf) across the goal line and you get to see the look in the other team’s eyes as they taste the bitter sweet draught that is a loss.
What was that about a dead animal again? You didn’t think we were talking about normal polo, did you? I mean, come on regular polo just doesn’t have the same flair that dead-animal polo does. Allow me to introduce you to the wonderfully cheery sport that in no way could ever possibly be considered a major violation of animal rights: buzhaski.
It’s kind of like polo, to some extent, but buzhaski replaces the thing that the rest of the world calls a ‘polo ball” with the decapitated dead body of either a goat or a calf.
It really adds a whole new ‘life” to the game, doesn’t it? It just isn’t as easy to get a dead body (which is sometimes even filled with sand to add more weight) across the goal as it is your normal everyday polo ball.
Buzkashi is the national sport of Afghanistan and has a history spanning at least 800 years or so, with there being some debate if it actually started in Afghanistan or was just later adopted from other tribes throughout Central Asia.
There are two different forms of the game one that starts with the dead animal in the center of a ring and the team must successfully carry it away from the circle of play. The other version is more akin to polo, with a scoring ring set up for each team. The team must take the carcass, carry it around the flag at the end of the field and then take it back to their respective goal at the scoring end.
The rest is pretty self-explanatory and the rules leave it open for a near all-out brawl.
Players can carry whips to trip up the other players’ horses all with the intent of getting the goat to the scoring circle. And while it may seem simple, with whips flailing in a myriad of directions and horses running around, things can get a little heated and complicated.
Another difference from regular polo’s play is the fact that while polo often has time limits, buzhaski games can go on for days. Now how the dead body lasts that long, I have no idea.
And it seems that the popularity of the sport will only continue to increase. The game was banned under the Taliban, but since their rule has dissipated, the game is once again making a comeback.
But I do think it is pretty safe to say that we might never see a true form of the game over on these PETA-fueled shores, some less violent forms are shaping up, replacing the dead body with a stuffed sheep.
Now, purists might say that it doesn’t have the same ring to it, but at least it might save some goats in the process.
Clark is a member of the class of 2012.