Big wheels keep turnin’

By Kaleb Alperin and Max Levine
Published: May 2010

Each month, we will show you around the world of odd and eccentric sports, regardless of country of origin, religious background, or political preference. We are just going to warn you now; this one might be a little cheesy.

It was another brisk day in the city of Newton, where a historic event was being celebrated. At Mason Rice Park in Newton Centre at 3:45 pm, seven of the most skilled and gifted seventh graders in the Newton Public School system congregated at the top of a wet, muddy hill to honor the art of cheese rolling.

This unique sport started thousands of years ago, however the modern racing takes place in Gloucestershire, England, where the cheese first rolled in 1967.

Explaining the objective of cheese rolling takes only a few words: cheese wheel rolls down hill; people try to catch the cheese.

We decided to pay tribute to those who rolled before us, risking injury and defeat, by holding our own cheese rolling competition. Although we did not have a hill of similar magnitude to Cooper’s Hill in England, the hill at Mason Rice Elementary School did the trick.

The journey started with a trip to the new Shaw’s Supermarket in Chestnut Hill to look for cheese. We examined various wheels, each with their own distinct advantages, however most did not square up to our standards.
Like the pros across the Atlantic we upheld our wheel to the highest of standards:

1. Aroma: We needed make sure our contestants experienced the overwhelming stench of their target.

2. Density: Not too soft, but not too hard.

3. Weight: Lighter than a seventh grader, yet heavier than a sixth grader.

4. Texture: The victor had to feel comfortable holding the cheese in triumph.

5. Taste: It is food, after all.

After hours of deliberation and scrutinizing all of our potential wheels, we came to a consensus on bleu cheese.

The wheel we picked had a diameter of eight inches, a width of approximately three inches, and it weighed a whopping 2.73 kilograms. It was perfect in both a garden salad and on the green grass of our hill.

When we arrived at the site, we were pleased by the turnout: nine eager, but terrified, seventh graders. The atmosphere was overwhelmingly intense that one withdrew due to “injury and another could not participate due to “a contradiction with her religious beliefs.

With a flick of the wrist, the cheese began its bouncing tumble downward, the contestants sprinting in pursuit.

Halfway down the hill it looked as if the competition would take longer than expected.

However, before you could have said, “who cut the cheese? three of the seven contestants dove into a puddle of mud where a scrum ensued with six of them trying to grab hold of the wheel. At last, the lone lady of the group, who gingerly strolled down the hill, lifted the deformed and muddy cheese to victory.

The winner, Margaret Beebecenter, (age: 13, height: 5’10, favorite class: lunch, school: Brown Middle School) said her tactic was to “wait while the boys tackled each other then I went in and got it!

From her first rolling we can see that she was made for the sport. She has the physique of a trackie, yet the explosiveness of a linebacker.

Personally, we believe that she would give last year’s British winner, Chris Anderson a run for his money.

After our first experiment with obscure sports, we have come to the conclusion that there are underrated sports around the world that should receive more attention than they’re given. We feel obligated to put these sports in the spotlight each month.

Cheese rolling, for example, is an elegant and graceful sport that requires agility and the ability to follow your nose.

If you have any suggestions, please don’t tell us. We write the column for a reason.

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