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logrolling


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A form of what Allen Guttmann (Sports: The First Five Millennia, 2004) calls ‘workplace competitions’, logrolling derives from the lumberjack trade in Canada and the north-eastern USA. Lumberjacks who rolled their logs downriver would compete to see who could balance longest on a log while the log was still floating or rolling in the water. One lumberjack would stand on each end of the log, and one would start walking on or ‘rolling’ the log, while the other sought to keep his balance. The successful contestant was the one who stayed on the log while the other fell into the water. Contests were first held in Canadian lumbercamps around 1840. A variant, ‘log birling’, was a race over a measured course, with lumberjacks using a pole to steer their way downriver: the first known contest was held in 1888, and a world championship was held in Nebraska, USA, in 1898, though the sport became more a performative item at exhibitions and riverside fairs. Logrolling has had some popularity among the wider public as a general recreation and sporting event. For six years up until 2006 US sport-based cable television channel ESPN featured it in its Great Outdoor Games. But it proved more of a novelty than a cultural magnet, and the sport's overarching association, Lumberjack Water Sports, has described the sport, since the end of the ESPN deal, as ‘diminishing’, not least because of the attempt by some to introduce carpeted logs:Rolling on regular logs requires a greater amount of skill and athleticism than is required by carpeted logs. The goal of Lumberjack Water Sports is to make the sport bigger and better, not degrade sport…Lumberjack Water Sports does not support the move to carpeted professional logs, as it threatens the sport of log rolling's integrity and future.

Rolling on regular logs requires a greater amount of skill and athleticism than is required by carpeted logs. The goal of Lumberjack Water Sports is to make the sport bigger and better, not degrade sport…Lumberjack Water Sports does not support the move to carpeted professional logs, as it threatens the sport of log rolling's integrity and future.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.


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