In 1973, inventor Martin Cooper made the first mobile phone call. In the time since that first cellular call, the number of cell phones in use has now reached more than five billion throughout the world. With that many cell phones it was only a matter of time before someone came up with a use for them that actually made sense.
Christine Lund, an interpreter in Finland founded the sport of “Kännykänheiton” which roughly translated means, “Boy, it is very cold here in Finland. I wish we had really good television. There is never anything to watch except shows on pickling herring. Why does my cell phone company charge me so much when I can never get decent reception? I’m going to take this phone back to the store and show them exactly what I think of their crappy service.” For the benefit of English speaking participants the name of the sport was shortened to “Mobile Phone Throwing.”
What started in Finland as a sport with just a few fans has grown to become a sport enjoyed throughout Europe and the United States. There are annual world championships held in Savonlinna, Finland, where the best throwers congregate to compete for the title of “the person that throws the cell phone really, really, really far”. (Finnish is extremely difficult to translate into English.) The 2011 World Championships attracted competitors from Australia, Finland, Russia, Ukraine and the United States.
Even though there are competitors from both Russia and the United States, the organizers do not require doping tests on participants. Being a sport, mobile phone throwing is governed by a formal set of rules. There are four categories of phone throwing: Juniors, Freestyle, Original and Team Original. Each of these categories is governed with minor variations by the same set of rules.
For the true aficionado the “original” category is considered the purest version of the sport. In “original” the phone must be tossed using the “traditional over the shoulder throw.” There has yet to be any official confirmation that points are deducted if anyone in the male division throws “like a girl.” Each thrower is permitted two throws, but each throw must be made using a different mobile phone. A competitor cannot take longer than 60 seconds between throws. The competitor who throws the cell phone the greatest distance is declared the winner.
The 2011 winner in the Men’s category was Oskari Heinonen who won with a throw of 76 meters. (If there are any Americans reading this 76 m is approximately 220 feet farther than the record distance for tobacco spitting.) Oskari did not come close to beating the world record distance of 94.7 meters, which was set by Mikko Lampi in 2005.
To help keep in top form between championships there is an Android app available called, “Throw Me” that is designed to let you practice throwing your phone and determining how far it would go. It is important to remember not to actually throw your phone, but just go through the motions. On a personal note, be advised that if you throw your phone, even if it is for the legitimate purpose of a recognized sport, your cell provider insists you keep paying until the end of your three-year contract. I bet Oskari never had that problem.
Originally appeared in The Cascade newspaper http://ufvcascade.ca