What is it?
Some claim it's a cross between baseball and golf, but in reality it only has a passing similarity to either. The game is played by teams of up to eighteen on a very long, straight field. A launcher, a curved metal ramp, is at one end, by which a player stands. He smacks a small rubber projectile, the hornuss, from the launcher with a long, bendy stick that looked like a fishing rod.
The hornuss can reach speeds of two hundred miles an hour, and can fly for up to three hundred yards. It zooms off straight towards the members of the other team, who are all standing on the field waving placards and wearing helmets.
The other team has to biff the hornuss out the air my hitting it with a placard. But because of the hornuss' small size and quick velocity, it's very hard to spot, leading to lots of comical running around with oversized wooden placards until someone sees the hornuss flying straight at their soft, pink, squishy flesh. At this point they panic and fling their placard up into the air and run away. And then whole thing starts again.
Points are scored if the hornuss hits the ground without having being stopped by a placard or someone's face.
Hornussen was developed in the early seventeenth century. It's unclear whether it was invented as a sport or, as a minority claim, as a method of warfare. All we can say is if the latter is true, it's probably for the best that the Swiss have sat out every major war since.
The name derives from the German word for hornet, because of the buzzing noise the hornuss makes as it flies through the air. We would have thought a better name would be "Meine Hoden!" for the inevitable cry a player makes when he fails to spot the hornuss until impacts his balls.