March 25 is Maryland Day, marking the anniversary of the day in 1634 that Europeans on two ships first set foot on land inhabited by some 40 Native American tribes.
Interesting fact about Maryland: it was the first state to adopt an official state sport.
Even more interesting fact about Maryland: that official state sport is jousting.
We’re talking about ring jousting here; Marylanders aren’t charging at each other trying to do each other in with sharp lances.
Instead, a jouster rides a horse through an 80-yard course that has three wooden structures.
On each one is a small ring – at tournament level they’re an inch in diameter or less – and that’s what the competitors have to spear, in nine seconds or less.
They get three rides through the course, so nine tries in all.
The sport has been around in Maryland for about as long as there’s been a Maryland.
The state’s founder, George Calvert, or Lord Baltimore, is sometimes depicted jousting.
Lawmakers voted to make jousting the official state sport in 1962, thanks to the efforts of Mary Lou Bartram, a three-time state jousting champion who helped found the Maryland Jousting Tournament Association with her brother George.
Bartram, by the way, later became the first woman to win the National Jousting Championship, which she did twice.
And in case you’re wondering, the National Jousting Championship is scheduled to be held in Maryland in October 2021, so start practicing now.
If jousting isn’t for you, here’s a different job that might be more to your liking.
The website Curbed has been publishing excerpts from the book “New Yorkers” by Craig Taylor, focusing on some of the most interesting people Taylor met in the city.
One of them, Sondra Shaye, has a very unusual job: when there’s a house that won’t sell, or an apartment that has a tragic or unsettling history, she does what’s called “space clearing,” which removes the negative energy from the location and bring in a more positive vibe.
A look into Maryland’s curious state sport: Jousting (Shore Monthly)
Mary Lou Bartram (Maryland Jousting Tournament Association)
Jousting photo by Pam Corey via Flickr/Creative Commons