Go outside and play; sports are good for your health. This is something that most of today’s generation has to listen to on a daily basis. However, there is one Dutch sport that doesn’t qualify as a sport that is good for health. We are talking about Paalzitten or Pole Sitting. As the name suggests; competitors have to sit on wooden poles for hours until they surrendered to either boredom or numbness.
There is no consensus about how Paalzitten came into being. However, some sources say that it originated in the Dutch province of Friesland. The locals tried to get rid of the boredom by inventing sports that relied on common objects that were used on a daily basis such as wooden poles. This led to Paalzitten and despite almost becoming extinct at some point; the sport is still being practiced occasionally in the Netherlands.
The poles used in Paalzitten are placed in water at a distance of few meters from one another. This way, even if a participant dozes off or becomes numb enough to fall down; no one gets injured. Modern poles are even equipped using a seat and backrest so that the competitors don’t become too uncomfortable. The rules even allow for toilet breaks every few hours.
However, back in the early 1970s; the rules were not so lax. Participants could not leave the poles at all, and a huge canvas was hung around them while they relieved themselves using wooden buckets. During the 1972 Paalzitten Championship, someone was strong-willed enough to spend 92 hours on the wooden pole.
It has transformed into a tourist attraction rather than a spectator sport. It makes sense though; not many people are looking forward to sitting for days only to witness who the last person to stay on the pole is and cheering for that person. The sport of Paalzitten even inspired one of the worst films in Dutch cinematography that was called Sportsman of the Century.