In "Sports from Hell: My Search for the World's Dumbest Competition," popular sports columnist Rick Reilly traverses the globe in search of the world's dumbest sport. Among the contenders uncovered by Reilly are chess boxing, a rock-paper-scissors championship and illegal jart throwing.
Read an excerpt of the book below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.
As a parent, you try to be fair. So, at our house, when there was a massive dispute that we couldn't settle between my middle son, Jake, and his brother or sister, I'd always say, "OK-- Rock Paper Scissors."
And the tears would stop and both kids would smile a little and then I'd count, "OK -- one, two, three, shoot!" And every single time Jake would win.
And as he'd run off happily with the last cookie or the found football card or, later, my car, I used to think, "Man, that's the luckiest kid I ever met."
Until one day, years later, I was in Las Vegas, when a poker announcer named Phil Gordon bet me $10 he could beat me in Rock Paper Scissors.
Rock Paper Scissors -- best out of ten -- and he'd give me the first two. And then he proceeded to fricassee me seven out of eight.
"How can that be?" I swore. "It's just pure luck, right?"
Wrong. Turns out Phil Gordon was a pro. In fact, Gordon hosts a $10,000 Rock Paper Scissors tournament in Las Vegas every year. It was the equivalent of having Betty Crocker walk up to you and go, "Wanna bet me in a bake-off?"
Gordon said I had a "tell" every time I'd go to throw Paper. He said I'd form it at the top of my arc and he'd see it and simply put down Scissors. He said newbie males always play a lot of Rock, so he countered with a lot of Paper. It reminded me of a bit from The Simpsons, in which Bart and Lisa are going to play Rock Paper Scissors for the last cupcake.
Lisa, thinking: "Poor, simple Bart. Always throws Rock. Every time."
Bart, thinking: "Rock! Good ol' Rock! Nothing beats Rock."
Gordon also said rookies rarely throw the same hand three times in a row. So anytime I played, say, Scissors, twice in a row, he knew on the next throw he could safely choose Paper and have zero chance of losing and 50 percent chance of winning.
"It's not luck," Gordon said, snatching my ten-spot. "It's skill."
And it hit me, right then, that Jake knew all those rules, too. It wasn't luck, it was skill. And that I was the crappiest parent since Jose Menendez.
It really gnawed at me how bad I was at RPS, so when TLC informed me that there was a world championship in Toronto every year -- put on by the World Rock Paper Scissors Society, no less -- I entered it immediately ($50, Canadian) and vowed to win it.
OK, not win it. But beat the knuckles off some people. OK, win at least one match.
Pretty soon I was inside a world I never knew existed. For instance, I never dreamed I'd read a quote like this one from Dave McGill, who won a $50,000 RPS tournament in Vegas: "God gave me a gift. It'd be a shame not to pursue it."
Wow. Really, Dave? Your fingers are a gift from God?
I never knew I'd know the names for all kinds of three-throw RPS gambits, such as:
The Avalanche -- three Rocks in a row.
The Bureaucrat -- three Papers in a row.
Paper Dolls -- Scissors, Paper, Scissors.
The Tax Cut -- Paper, Paper, Scissors.
The Bible -- seven straight Papers.
The Guillotine -- seven straight Scissors.