The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Sport Alternative: Fire-Jumping

By Taylor Axelson

Photo from, feature photo from Getty Images

Looking for the hottest sport around?

I found it for you: fire-jumping.

This slightly crazy sport has its origins in an ancient Persian traditional festival called Nowruz. The festival lasts for thirteen days and has been practiced as part of the Zoroastrian religion for almost 3000 years. The religion the festival comes from follows the practice of worshiping fire.

The tradition included people going into alleys and setting bonfires alight and then jumping over them. The practice was meant as a way for the jumper to transfer their pain, sickness and weakness to the fire while taking strength, heat and light from it instead.

One place where the practice has spread out of the Iranian community to a wider audience is in America. In Southern California, revellers gather in beaches all along the state to take part in very interesting and strange competitions.

California has extremely strict fire codes and people are not allowed to even light fires on their own properties, so fire jumpers go to the beaches where lighting fires are permitted.  They jump over fires all night, and the competition has gotten bigger and bigger, just like the fires they are jumping over.

It is possible that this sport will become another extreme sport with it’s growing popularity, but considering how dangerous it is, government policy stands in its way. It may pass regulations with the proper type of safety equipment worn but it is unlikely to become a proper sport anytime soon.  It looks like it will continue to be a once a year festival.

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