Sports: Will Buzkashi, the Afghan Version of Polo Using a Severed Goat Head Become The Next Big Thing? 7 Reasons Why We Think It Will
If you know anything about me you already know that I am a Buzkashi fanatic. I first discovered the game while on vacation in Afghanistan. Touring the villages of Helmand Province, a region known for its beauty and high quality opium, I chanced upon an open field with 20 men on horseback. There for the first time I witnessed the spectacle of a well played Qarajai match. I sat in thrall as the burly riders fiercely competed to carry the goat corpse across the 400 meter field.
Three days later and with sundown approaching, I thought the match would end in a draw, but just as the spectators began to peter out I could see a tired but determined Fardeen, the Messi of Buzkashi, making one last go of it, grabbing the goat head and lunging toward the goal: poetry in motion. Was he going to do it? No. It couldn't be. What a run! "Go Fardeen, go!" chanted the crowd as the Chapandaz did the inconceivable, swooping past his opponents and lobbing the corpse into the "circle of justice".
From then on I was a Buzkashi fanatic and I'm not embarrassed to admit that it's been my life's ambition to own a professional team. But financing and training the horses costs a pretty penny and only the wealthiest men in Central Asia can own their own teams. That's why I became a warlord. Every village I sack brings me closer to my dream and while I'm not saving up money, I'm constantly doing what I can to share my love for the game.
Buzkashi is deeply loved in Central Asia. While there is no question that Americans love sports, it is puzzling to think that so far Buzkashi has not found a wide audience in the United States. But I think the times are changing. Here are 7 reasons why.
1. Similar Games Are Already Widely Popular in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Turkey
It should be noted that while Buzkashi is only played in Afghanistan, similar sports are popular among the Turkic peoples of Central Asia. Kokpar, Kupkari and Ulak Tartysh are widely played in Kyrgyzstan, while Kökbörü and Gökbörü are experiencing a resurgence in Turkey. Therefore, it is only a matter of time before such games take off in the US.
2. Days Long Matches Mean More Airtime for Advertisers
Typical Buzkashi matches last for several days and companies will appreciate the opportunities this affords for advertising revenue. Furthermore, many Chapandazes are beloved and well known in the Steppes of Central Asia and would make excellent corporate pitchmen.
3. Equestrian Sports Promote Physical Fitness and Well Being
Studies suggest horseback riding induces muscle strength, balance, flexibility and metabolic control, making it an excellent form of physical exercise. What's more, there is no doubt that Buzkashi promotes self-esteem, especially when taught to youngsters. Nothing is more gratifying than the feeling of swooping past your opponents and lobbing a severed goat head into "the circle of justice".
4. People Hate Goats
This one speaks for itself.
5. President Trump has Pledged to Send 4000 more US Troops to Afghanistan.
While many have called the war in Afghanistan a "quagmire" and have expressed concern that US troops will continue to be bogged down in an unwinnable conflict, President Trump's Afghan policy is fantastic news for Buzkashi. In Taliban controlled territories, Buzkashi is officially banned by the fanatical group who have denounced the game as "immoral". Defeating the Taliban on the battlefield will be great news for lovers of the sport.
6. Buzkashi is Less Violent than American Football
As we continue to learn more about concussions and the risks of brain injury posed by American Football, parents across the country are increasingly opting to take their children out of the sport. While Buzkashi riders are armed with whips, it is against the rules to intentionally strike another player. Thus Buzkashi is a better choice for the concerned parent.
7. It's fun. Duh!
What could be more fun than swooping past your opponents and lobbing a severed goat head into the "circle of justice".