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Story pick: Jousting enjoys a renaissance, natch

Oh great, there may be another full-contact death-match ultimate fighting spectacle heading toward a pay-per-view screen near you. According to Dashka Slater, writing in the current New York Times Magazine, the big tattooed guys who like to hit and be hit are going all medieval on us. They've discovered jousting.

Long a carefully choreographed staple of Renaissance fairs, the new extreme form of jousting is more like the real combat of old. A couple of riders in armor gallop toward each other with 11-foot-long lances pointed at each other's shields. The goal is to get points for solid contact and, even better, send the guy flying. Slater has a good eye for both the mayhem on the field and the blood lust in the stands, which is presumably unchanged from the rowdy crowds of King Arthur's day.

It was as if someone had sent an electric current through the arena’s aluminum bleachers. Men leapt to their feet with their fists in the air. Teenage girls clutched one another’s arms. Tolle lay on his back on the ground flanked by two squires and didn’t move for a full minute. When the squires pulled him to his feet, he stumbled and nearly fell again before limping off.

“I want to see another guy get paralyzed,” a boy in front of me squealed, waving a toy sword.

Nascar meets Camelot. These are not devotees of England's grand and chivalrous history. "(“I don’t know jack about history, nor do I care,” says one of the event's founders).

Read about it here and then watch for it on ESPN, which for any sport remains, ahem, the Holy Grail.

By Steve Hendrix  | July 15, 2010; 8:37 AM ET
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