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Russian Slap Fighting: The Niche Sport You Never Knew About … and It’s Coming to the U.S.

Posted By Administration, Monday, June 15, 2020

Yes, some sports have been able to survive through COVID-19. Esports is one of these. College bass fishing tournaments where competitors e-mail a photo of their catch being measured on a bump board (with the largest fish, inch-wise, winning) is another. Then there’s the plethora of virtual events where individuals could take part by running or cycling either at home or outdoors (preferably alone).

But something else that has gone on despite the pandemic, despite all other precautions being taken, is Russian Slap Fighting, the sport where grown men take turns slapping one another across the face until one of them fouls out or passes out. Yes, it's a contact sport. Yes, it's a spectator sport. And yes, it's drawing the crowds (and no, they're not doing the social distance thing).

It’s as strange and testosterone-fueled as it sounds. (Need to see it? Here’s a video link link). And by the way, there are plenty of other videos on YouTube, some narrated in English by a spectacularly profane announcer who uses the handle of Penguinz0. He’s an admirer, not a slapper, but he can still explain what’s going on.

The contestants in a slap fighting contest wear no special equipment – no gloves and no helmets (obviously). To maintain balance after being slapped, competitors hold on to a stand (some sturdier than others) that has been placed between them – although many require assistance to stay on their feet after being struck.

And there are rules, at least in the Russian form of the sport. Only the upper part of the palm can be used to strike only the cheek, without touching the jaw, temple or ear of the opponent – if you hit those, it’s a foul. Evading the slap (including merely flinching to one side) is also a foul. So is using any part of your hand other than the upper part of the palm. If a competitor commits two fouls, he loses the match.

Each man gets five slaps at his opponent. Assuming there are no fouls, a judge decides who fared better, and the winner proceeds to the next round. Occasionally, both contestants split the prize if neither has committed a foul and both have done well.

And yes, medics are on standby – and they are often needed to clean up wounds, revive unconscious patients and make the decision that someone has sustained an injury too severe to allow them to continue (no matter what the contestant might think).

“Anyone who is willing to take part can do so, but the person must understand that it is not fun, it is fun on the one hand, but it carries a high risk to life, risk of getting injured,” explained competition owner, Denis Kiyutsin, in an interview with a news program. “We explain it to everybody, we get everybody together, to explain the rules, what can and cannot be done, like a short briefing, there is at least one judge who is watching that the rules are followed, because people sometimes are cheating, deliberately breaking some rules, but this can lead to serious traumas with their opponent. Every person, by all means, should be aware that it is dangerous that there is risk to life, so every person signs an acknowledgment that he is aware of this,”

Oh, and by the way, this also takes place in the U.S.; one popular YouTube video shows a competition held in Branson, Missouri, where two individuals, known as Hillbilly Hippie (from Mountain Home, Arkansas) and Crazy Hawaiian (who hails from the islands of his namesake), went head to head for nearly 15 minutes before Hillbilly became too concussed to continue. If you want to see a video, it's here.

Slapping contests can be standalone events; in Russia, they began as an add-on to the weekend-long Siberian Power Show—which included bodybuilding, powerlifting, dance offs and a dumpling eating contest. 

“There have always been interesting fistfights in Russia. It happened spontaneously and was interesting. We were sitting and thinking how to diversify our (our event), we are looking at how to make sport more interesting, we have sports zones, and entertainment zones and slap competitions started with a spontaneous idea, why not try?” said Kiyutsin.

The undisputed superstar of Russian slapping is Vasily Pelmen who goes by the remarkable nickname of Dumpling. The mountain of a guy knocking his opponents out with one slap that you at the beginning of this blog? Yeah, that’s Dumpling.

Whether the sport catches on in the U.S. as anything more than a novelty remains to be seen. And it’s unlikely that it’ll ever need special facilities or equipment (other than perhaps punching bags or similar items). The sport’s sponsors tend to be dietary supplements and the commercials (you’ll see one in the first clip) show musclebound weightlifters.

But as mentioned previously, it’s one sport that, in Russia, at least, seems to have a blatant disregard for the pandemic.

“Sports are closed everywhere else,” says Penguinz0, “but in Russia, they’re still slapping each other around. The virus is probably afraid of slap fighting.”

Tags:  American Sports Builders Association  arenas  boxing  combat sports  combative sports  fieldhouses  fighting sports  hand to hand combat  hand-to-hand combat sports  indoor sports  indoor sports facilities  Russian Slap Fighting  wrestling 

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An Update on the 2020 'Fields of Dreams' Construction

Posted By MaryHelen Sprecher, Friday, August 30, 2019

It’s still a year away but the first-ever Major League game to be played at the iconic “field of dreams” in Iowa corn country is already a home run in terms of publicity. An 8,000-seat park will be built on the site of the famous set – and tickets are already at a premium.

And the small town (population 4,220) of Dyersville is already gearing up for what is likely to be its biggest year since the movie came out in 1989.

The game itself will involve the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox, and will be played on August 13, 2020. And it’s easy to believe the 8,000 seats in the stadium are going to be in high demand. Reports indicate the Dyersville Chamber of Commerce has been getting nonstop calls about the game.

Construction of the temporary ballpark on the “Field of Dreams” site was slated to begin in mid-August, KCRG reports. And members of the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) are involved.

Adjacent to the original Field of Dreams, a new stadium and playing surface will be constructed from scratch to ensure MLB standards are met. In total, 17 acres of the cornfield will require grading to accommodate the infrastructure. The field will be a sand-based natural grass system with a complete underdrain system. A fully automatic irrigation system will also be installed to manage the bluegrass sodded field. 

BrightView will oversee the installation of new foul poles, bullpens, a batter’s eye and backstop net while BaAm will build the temporary seating, locker rooms, media and press box areas in conjunction with Populous.  The majority of the sitework and subbase system will be completed this fall. In the spring of 2020, USGA modified rootzone materials and sod will be added with an estimated completion date of mid-July.  Following the historic contest, the field will remain with fencing included.
 
Construction and maintenance of the field as well as site grading will be overseen by BrightView, the nation’s leading landscape services company and Major League Baseball’s sports turf consultant.  Each BrightView employee on the project is an STMA member. Nearly a dozen members of STMA will form the team responsible for ensuring the field upholds the standards of a typical MLB venue on game night. 
 
"Sports Field managers ensure safe playing fields where athletes at all levels can achieve their dreams day in and day out" says Kim Heck, CAE, CEO of STMA. “This will be an historic event and we are looking forward to working with our Iowa chapter to make it a great experience for the thousands in attendance and the millions watching from around the world."
 
"This is a very special project,” says Murray Cook, President of BrightView Sports Turf and past President of STMA. "Everything will be built from scratch; from the pitcher’s mound, to the outfield, to the entire ballpark itself. Being the first MLB game in Iowa, we are especially pleased to have many ‘Iowans’ on our construction and maintenance teams to assist with the project.”
 
Next year’s Field of Dreams game is the latest venture between BrightView and MLB. BrightView’s’ team maintained and prepared the playing surface for the London Series between the Yankees and Red Sox earlier this season. 

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Tags:  American Sports Builders Association  ASBA  Baseball  baseball diamonds  baseball fields  baseball stadium  Certified Field Builders  field builders  Field of Dreams  fields book  Fields Division  Iowa  Major League Baseball  MLB  Sports Fields: A Construction and Maintenance Manu 

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