Three legendary creatures who will beat you at sports (and ironing)

If you’re anything like me the thought of participating in a volleyball game makes you run to the bathroom and feign a terrible stomach ache. As we all know, sporting is healthy, so I do hope that you’re not anything like me. The only sport that has ever fascinated me is quidditch and the fact that I have never caught a snitch makes me genuinely sad.

The reason why I dislike sport so much is partly because of a very long list of truly awful PE teachers during secondary school. I suspect that if one of these creatures had taught me how to jump on a beam, I would be polishing my Olympic medal now instead of writing this blog post.

The last creature on this list just likes to iron (which is quite important as well).

Barbegazi

Barbegazi are my favourite winter-time creatures. These good-natured beings live in the French and Swiss Alps. They get their name from the French Barbe-Glacée which means ‘Frozen Beards.’ They are gnome-like creatures and have long beards that look like icicles. Their huge feet make a pair of excellent skis.

These creatures love nothing better than to ski all day long. And surfing on an avalanche is their idea of heaven. If you ever hear someone whistling in the Alps you might want to take heed since there’s a very real chance that a Barbegazi is trying to warn you of an upcoming snowslide.

We’re very lucky to have these gnomes. It’s said that they will work hard to dig out humans who are buried underneath the snow. They will also help shepherds to retrieve lost sheep. Not stopping their search until they have found the missing animals.

While they might beat you in a skiing contest it’s very unlikely that they’ll beat you at beach volleyball. During the summer they protect themselves from the rising temperatures by sleeping in the caves and tunnels deep underneath the mountains which they call home.

Centaurs

‘Battle of Centaurs and Wild Beast’ an artwork made by an unknown artist around 120 A.D.

If there’s one creature which you don’t want to race against on a horse it must be -for very obvious reasons- a centaur. But they’ll probably beat you at more games than just horse-racing.

Centaurs have their origins in Greek mythology. It’s said that they’re wilder than untamed horses and like to live secluded lives deep in the forests and far away from human society.

The Greeks saw them as uncultured and ill-mannered. They were also convinced that centaurs did nothing all day but drink and overindulge in food (so, they’ll probably beat you in a drinking game as well).

Considering the above it’s quite odd that they also have a reputation for being wise. One of the most famous of all centaurs listens to the name of Chiron. He educated the young Achilles in subjects that ranged from medicine to gymnastics. Here it’s also useful to know that gymnastics is a sport that evolved from techniques which the Ancient Greeks used to mount and dismount their horse and from some clever Greek circus tricks. Yes, centaurs can probably jump on a beam more elegantly than you.

Hobgoblin

While many football teams are named after characters in Greek mythology, most of these characters are very human (Granted, Achilles is a half-god but he’s not very creature-like). It’s actually quite hard to think of legendary creatures who are active sportsmen. Or there’s just a huge gap in my knowledge. If this is the case, please educate me!

Since the number ‘three’ is practically sacred in folklore I wanted to present three creatures to you. The reason why I choose the hobgoblin is because ironing can be just as tiring as participating in a bicycle race.

The painting above was painted by Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) and depicts a creature called Puck. He appears in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a mischievous fairy. I think that it’s safe to assume that he’s one of the first hobgoblins who gets his own voice in a dramatic performance. In the lines that follow one of Titania’s fairies describes this hobgoblin in a way that no writer can rival.

Either I mistake your shape and making quite,

Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite

Call’d Robin Goodfellow: are not you he

That frights the maidens of the villagery;

Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern

And bootless make the breathless housewife churn;

And sometime make the drink to bear no barm;

Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?

Those that Hobgoblin call you and sweet Puck,

You do their work, and they shall have good luck:

Are not you he?

Fairy when she first meets Puck. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act II, Scene I

In Shakespeare’s play Puck is responsible for breaking up a young couple and for replacing the head of Nick Bottom (a wannabe playwright) into that of a donkey.

Puck might be the most famous hobgoblin but he doesn’t do any ironing. So let’s move on to those that do.

Hobgoblins are small, hairy creatures who like to stay in the houses of humans. They spend their time dusting off and ironing those silk shirts that you wish you had never bought. You won’t find a single wrinkle in any of your clothes once they have finished their work. What do they want in return? Food.

I know what you’re thinking right now: I want one! Where can I find them? You might want to reconsider because there’s a catch. Doing the dishes, dusting off and ironing while the household is asleep does get boring. And for the hobgoblin there’s no better way to counter boredom then by carrying out some practical jokes. Some of these jokes are harmless but others are very dangerous. If you offend them you might find yourself locked up in cold cellar for a couple of hours. Always keep in mind that it’s very easy to annoy them. If your goblin likes a red apple and you’re giving him a green one instead, it will definitely take revenge.

If the relationship between you and your hobgoblin eventually becomes unbearable you can banish them by giving them clothing (yes, I’m thinking of Dobby as well).

Returning to the title of this blog post, they’re probably better cleaners than you are.

Warning: this is an affiliate link. If you click on it, I might earn something, although the chance that I stumble across a centaur is bigger.


If you have heard of any creatures against whom you would lose a football match with 0-7 I would love to hear from you! Are there any beings which you associate with a particular sport? Would you take a hobgoblin in house despite the risks? Do you think that you can ski more skilfully than a Barbegazi? Let me know in the comments!


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