Sports have always been celebrated for their ability to transcend place and culture. Not so much with buzkashi, Afghanistan's explosive version of horse-mounted rugby. Perhaps it's the "ball," a headless and hoofless calf that has been soaked in water, that keeps the traditional game from crossing borders. Or the fact that there are no teams, few rules and limited corporate sponsorship. Not that Afghans haven't tried in the 1950s, buzkashi aficionados lobbied the International Olympic Committee to include of the sport, to no avail. Today, those wanting to catch a game head for the open terrain behind the Kabul airport every clear Friday (the Afghan Saturday) to watch the nation's best players fight to get the calf carcass into the chalk-circle goal. But be warned: just because buzkashi respects international borders, doesn't mean players respect field boundaries. The action often spills into the crowds, to ecstatic roars of approval.
By Aryn Baker