Kiteboarding: a new but familiar challenge for the skateboarder

Not be in the papers and top sports blogs in the same way that football, ice hockey, tennis, and car racing are, kiteboarding has nevertheless been growing in popularity over the last few decades. Not only is it a sport unlike any other that requires agility, strength, and flexibility in addition to something of an adventurous spirit, it also provides quite a few enthusiasts a sound excuse to get out of the sofa and see the world. If you’re new to the sport of kiteboarding,  you’re in for a rewarding hobby but there are more than a couple things you’ll need to take under consideration before you start travelling the globe looking for the perfect wave.

Firstly and perhaps most importantly, one needs to bear in mind that kiteboarding is not always the safest of sports when considering that fact that it is always done in nature. And like other sports performed outdoors—like sailing, skiing, skydiving—changes in weather, especially sudden ones, can led to fatal outcomes if proper care is not taken. But I don’t want to discourage the would-be kiteboarder because most of the time kiteboarding is perfectly safe. Do however bear in mind that you should have a thorough weather forecast before starting out for the day.

Even before you get to the water, if you’re first-timer you’ll probably want to have lessons. As dull as it can sound for adrenaline sport junkies, kiteboarding shouldn’t be taken lightly and you’ll want to have an experienced kiteboarder with you. Although the sport incorporates skills common in other sports you may already know how to do, like sailing, surfing, or snowboarding, it is a sport of its own and should be treated thusly.

As with any sport, it has a large fanbase and quite a few people enjoy travelling to large tournaments like the international the Kiteboarding World Championships. With events held in France, Italy, China, and Egypt during the 2016 championships, it’s no wonder that kiteboarding is a favourite of travel lovers.

But before doing that—competing internationally for rank that is—you might be wondering how long learning will take you. The good news there is for the complete beginner it doesn’t require too much more than a couple of days’ investment—usually 10 to 20 hours in total— before one learns the basics. As with other sports were balance is crucial though, the steep learning curve usually means that there can be a lot of potential for injury—don’t try this sport without an expert—and you’re probably going to fall a lot.

Nevertheless it’s usually possible to get the basics down, especially if you’re an avid skateboarder, since so many of the skills are transferable.

History of basketball

The Canadian doctor Jame Naismith was an educator who specialised in physical education at the at the International Young Men’s Christian Association Training School (YMCA) in Springfield, Massachusetts. On rainy day, so the story goes, he was endeavouring to keep his gym class busy and doing sport and so he needed a game that could be played indoors and year round.

He wrote the basic rules and nailed a peach basket onto a 10-foot (3.0 m) elevated track. In contrast with modern basketball nets, this peach basket retained its bottom, and balls had to be retrieved manually after each “basket” or point scored. This meant that initially a team player had to stand on a ladder and retrieve the ball every time someone scored. Needless to say, this proved inefficient so the bottom of the basket was removed, allowing the balls to be poked out with a long dowel each time.

Basketball was originally played with a football/soccer ball. It wasn’t until much later, that balls were made especially for basketball. They were brown and it wasn’t until more than half a century later that Tony Hinkle decided to give the balls their familiar orange colour so that both the spectators and the athletes themselves would have an easier time following the ball. Surprising to any modern fan of the game, dribbling was not part of the early basketball with the except of the “bounce pass”. Passing the ball was the primary means of ball movement. Dribbling was eventually introduced but limited by the asymmetric shape of early balls. It wasn’t until the 1950s, round the same time that the balls got their orange colour that dribbling became institutionalised as the primary mode of movement for the balls.

The peach baskets however, were phased out much, much earlier in the history of the sport — in 1906 — when they were replaced by metal hoops with backboards. Another design change was added so that instead of having to have a person manually remove the ball or poke it out with a long stick, as was common, the ball would merely pass through the hoop. The scoring was more or less the same as it is today: one point was scored every time the ball pass through the hoop (from top to bottom) and the team with the most points won the match.

The backboard was an addition that prevented spectators from interfering in the game, as it was common, before the backboard, for spectators to try to influence the game by knocking the ball away from the backboard as the spectators sat in the mezzanine balcony of the playing court, where the basket were initially mounted. It had the additional effect of allowing rebound shots. Naismith’s diaries were discovered by his granddaughter a century later 2006,and showed he was sceptibal about the new game he had invented, which incorporated rules from a children’s game called “Duck on a Rock”. Naismith called the new game “Basket Ball”.

Celebrity athletes in society

Being at the absolute top of almost any profession is cause for celebrity in most cases. Top lawyers, top journalists, the best doctors and scientists, and the wealthiest bankers are not seen infrequently in the headlines. While we don’t always hear about the best bus driver or factory worker, jobs that are in the public eye or earn a lot of money are often known throughout a country. The best example of this is probably actors and sports stars.

It’s not uncommon, especially for entertainers, to use their fanbase and celebrity to raise awareness for political campaigns, causes they support or are opposed to—John Lennon and Jane Fonda both had very public anti-war activities during the 60s and 70s—and shift the public spotlight on to causes.

While some people feel that celebrities should stick to what made them famous, their role in society as people of prominence allows them to shine light on topics that might not otherwise get much press coverage—and subsequent public discussion. And in many cases sports stars have made huge contributions to society both after and during their professional careers.

World champion boxer  Amir Khan as attracted attention lately by teaming up with Penny Appeal to fight social injustice. Football star David Beckham support many charities such as United Against AIDS and UNICEF. Beyond individuals there are even either organisations that focus on the role athletes play in a broader society such as the very aptly named Athletes For Charity.

Khan is by no means an exception. One of the most successful campaigns conducted by a famous athlete was Michael Jordan in the 1990s and his campaign to raise awareness of and fight AIDS. As someone with HIV/AIDS himself he put one of the most public faces onto a usually fatal and utterly devastating disease.

A more recent example of a sporting legend tackling social problems is record-holing American cyclist Lance Armstrong. Struck by cancer, how the world-class cyclist fought cancer and continued his already impressive cycling career became the stuck of tabloid coverage as well as more prestigious discourse. He survived and continues to work with charities that raise money for cancer sufferers and cancer treatment research.

Despite some people’s rather cynical opinion that celebrities only engage in charity work in order to boost their own profile, their intervention and profile has and continues to lead to positive changes for societies around the world.

My top five picks for an adventure holiday

1. Dasht-i-Lut. This desert in Iran might be only the 25th largest in the world at 51 000, but it’s one of the hottest and driest places on the planet. The highest recorded temperature in the desert in western Iran, on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, was about 70 C, making it one of the hottest (and the hottest by some measurements) places on the entire planet. With such extreme conditions, survival is tough which means that the bit of land has remained unchanged by humans for the entirety of human history.

2. Colorado River. At La Poudre Pass in the Southern Rocky Mountains in Colorado (a bit northwest of the state’s capital, Denver) an unassuming stream begins its journey to the the Gulf of Cortes between mainland Mexico and the Baja Peninsula. By the time the stream reaches its destination it will have carved through the Grand Canyon, a testament to the ancient courses of the river. Although the river flows through a developed country its territory is pure wilderness. Rafting now the river would be an exhilarating treat.

3. Mt Everest Base Camp. In the Nepalese and Tibetan Himalaya one finds the worlds highest mountain. As exotic and synonymous with adventure as Mount Everest is, the base camp itself has become something of a tourist hotspot. While journeying to it may seem remarkable—and it’s no small feat—most people in reasonably good health should be able to make the journey provided they have enough time. The journey on foot takes roughly a week from Lukla, the highest point in the valley to land safely and easily reachable from Kathmandu. With teahouses and Buddhist temples as accommodation along the way, it’s a cultural adventure as much as a nature one.

4. Scoresby Sound. Not for the light-hearted or the cold-blooded! This inlet that cuts into Green just north and east of Iceland has icebergs in its water throughout the year. Kayaking through it proves a challenge and only for those with enough courage to brave the elements. For those brave enough for a northern paddle, they will be rewarded with schools of orca, as known as killer whales, seals, and possibly a polar bear or two. You wouldn’t be the first human to set foot on the shores though, as this area was first inhabited by Vikings some 1000 years ago. Remnants of their camps can still be found today.

5. Kilimanjaro. Climbing Kilimanjaro is an adventurers classic. The highest peak in Africa is no walk in the park, especially when considering the possibility of altitude sickness, but for a reasonably experienced hiker making the summit shouldn’t prove too challenging. Along it’s located inside Tanzania, the nearest city to fly into is Niarobi, Kenya and then make the journey overland into Tanzania. Beyond the trek itself one is bequeathed the opportunity to see some of the world’s most famous wildlife—and sadly, wildlife that might only be round for a few more years.