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7 Weird Extreme Historical Sports That Appear to Be Fake 

Since the beginning of time, sports have involved activities that make people get out of their comfort zones. And the majority of them also include the possibility of enhancing one’s abilities and skills. It’s a fact that sports are amazing for our health and wellbeing, but they’re also used as a form of entertainment. Nowadays, a lot of sports are played all over the world, and many people participate in a lot of competitions. It was certainly different in ancient times. How? Well, bull jumping, corpse polo, and alligator wrestling all sound like made-up sports. Yet in Central America, crowds gathered to watch ancient Minoans vault over bulls, Seminole Indians struggle with alligators, and horsemen capture a headless goat carcass.

If this sounds weird, this is just the beginning! Many of these extreme ancient games were unrestricted, in contrast to current sports where competitors must adhere to restrictions. Let’s see which historical sport was the most extreme.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

1. Mayan’s ball game was definitely a weird sport

Did you know that the Olmecs of Mesoamerica were the first to invent a sport that involved a ball? That was 3,500 years ago. Time flies indeed! The first and only rule of the game was to keep the ball in the air as much as possible without touching it with your hands or feet. In a confined space between two sloping walls, teams squared up. Later on in the 13th century, a lot of courts added stone circles and a player’s team would win the game if they were successful in passing the ball through the circle.

However, the game involved more than just chucking a ball through a ring of stones because additionally, Olmec and Mayan rites included it. In most cases, the crowds would come for routine performances to watch players compete while possibly making bets on the winning team. But when the game was based on a ritualistic performance, the losing team’s players would be sacrificed to the gods by the Mayans. How messed-up is this?

2. Episkyros- the modern rugby predecessor

It is no surprise that the Greeks were amazing at every ancient sport. Episkyros was a simple ball game that wasn’t made for trained athletes but for normal people that were interested in having an active life. There were two teams of equal size that stood opposite one another and competed in the sport. Between the two teams, a line known as the skuros was drawn, and two further lines were drawn, one behind the other. As their opponents recovered, one team would hurl the ball over the other and attempt to go forward.

When the other team grabs the ball, they push the other players back while throwing the ball back to make up for any lost ground. The winning team would be the first to entirely push the opposing side across the finish line. This is one of the sports that influenced modern rugby, or what we know as American football.

3. Roman Chariot racing

Another nation that loved their extreme sports was definitely the Romans. And their most famous sport that brought huge crowds was chariot racing. In fact, the first Roman chariot races were held at the Circus Maximus, and in the stands were almost 200,000 fans. That’s a lot! During the race, the teams compete against each other for the victory.

The 12 chariots were lined up and divided into four factions; each of them had a different color: blue, white, green, and red. Believe it or not, most of the races were pretty dangerous, especially because none of the drivers followed the game rules. The competitors were allowed to fling their enemies from their chariots, pummel them and trample down fallen horsemen with their horses.

Photo by kontrymphoto From Shutterstock

4. Jousting- noble but dangerous

Jousting was considered the most famous sport in medieval times. Particularly for noblemen, this was one way to spend their time and the consequences of this sport were critical for them and their families. This was also the unfortunate case of King Henry, who fell from his horse during a match. He lay unconscious for hours because the armored house fell on top of him, and a lot of people thought he actually died. After a leg injury, there were several months of slow recovery when the king gained a bit of weight, which led to big changes in his personality.

Why was jousting classified as one of the most dangerous sports? Riders in armor charged each other while brandishing wooden lances. A collision between the riders almost always results in injuries. Apparently, Henry wasn’t the only king to fall victim to jousting, though. A jousting mishap resulted in the death of France’s King Henry II.

5. Barking off squirrels- the weirdest American sport of the 19th century

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries in America, this activity was a form of squirrel hunting. Daniel Boone, a well-known frontiersman, popularized it after it began in the wilderness of Kentucky. This sport’s objective was to hunt squirrels without using firearms. Instead, the players would blast the bark directly beneath the squirrels. This had a strong enough impact to disintegrate the bark and cause a blast strong enough to kill the squirrels.

Who knew that in ancient times there were so many weird sports?

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

6. Pasuckuakohowog – the Soccer predecessor

The Algonquins enjoyed playing a game called pasuckuakohowog, which translates to “people meet to play ball with their feet,” in the 17th century. This was a predecessor of what we know as soccer and was mostly played on a big field with goals a mile apart from each other. The 1,000 players were supposed to kick the ball through the goal. Weirdly enough, there were no specific rules for this game. That’s why most of the players often become brutal during the battles.

During ancient times, a lot of people were happy to celebrate after the game ended, no matter what the score was. This was also the case for “Pasuckuakohowog.” When it was over, both sides celebrated with a celebration meal.

What do you think about these sports? Which was the most bizarre: their names or the sport itself?

7. Pankration – one of the most dangerous sports of all time

Panakration was one of the Greek sports that included wrestling and boxing in the same game. All the athletes that were participating in the competition during the ancient Olympic games were showing their strength and endurance. Even if the players didn’t have any weapons, the sport was pretty dangerous and a lot of people dared to call it more of a war than a simple sport. Why? Because it was so brutal and the competitors were allowed to kick each other’s genitals and sensitive parts of the body. The only “rule” was to fight in the ring and not outside of it.

Did you know that one of the athletes died in one of these games? Take Arrhichion of Phigalia, who shortly after he won the medal died because of the wounds. Because it was one of the most popular sports at that time, the Romans adopted pankration and made it even more threatening because they allowed the competitors to wear spiked gloves.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of our website! We have many other interesting topics. One of our favorites is: 7 Famous American Painters That Put Their Mark on History.


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