10 Kick Ass Sports That Ancient Greek Loved To Play
Sports and games in ancient Greece were essentially a part of military service. So it makes sense why sports and games were such serious business in ancient Greece. Participating in sports wasn’t just a matter of pride and honour but it was a way to draw attention and rise in ranks. This article explores the 10 kick-ass sports that ancient Greek citizens loved playing.
Mule-racing was introduced in 500 BCE and it’s hard to conceive but mule-racing generated enormous amount of enthusiasm among the audience. But by 50 years it had lost its charm and was therefore pulled out of the Olympics. This probably happened because spectator just couldn’t gulp the sight of an ungraceful half-ass replacing what was essential a sport of horses and men. Despite facing contempt everywhere, some aristocrats in Italy and Sicily were so gaga over the sports that they celebrate victories in mule-racing by commissioning imprinted coins and composing lyrical odes.
Javelin has its origin from the days when hunters and gatherers roamed the face of Earth. The sport of Javelin involved the use of a long wooden pole (lighter than what warriors use) that in length was equal to the height of the athlete and had a pointed end (simply sharpened or metal covered). The goal was to throw the pole and strike the target. Often throwing straps were used to increase forward momentum.
Throwing the javelin on horseback was also commonly done. Rules of the game were that the horse would gallop forward and upon reaching a certain marked point the rider would throw the javelin towards the target. Sounds easy enough except it’s tremendously hard.
Also known as stade, is the commonest game ever played since the time humans evolved and got their long slender and awfully attractive legs – running races.
Running was the premier event of the gymnikos agon or nude competition (yes, nude competition) which I can very well image why. Okay, jokes apart, running being a part of the five major Pentathlon was so big of a deal that sometimes, winner of a race was considered winner of an entire Games. Weird huh!
At number 7 of Sports That Ancient Greek Loved, Torch-race is somewhat similar to relay race except instead of handing off the baton, the athlete passes the torch to her/his team member. In those days, torch-races had more of a religious significance than competitive ones. The goal was to race from one place to another with the burning torch exchanging hands and reach the final destination without letting the fire getting extinguished. Torch-races were a big part of Greek religious festivals where the winner was allowed to light the fire at the altar of sacrifice. Introduction of Olympic flame in the 1936 Berlin Games was inspired from this ancient torch-race.
6. Discus Throwing
Speaking of Sports That Ancient Greek Loved, Discus throwing, although not a part of the modern Pentathlon was an iconic sports in the Ancient Olympic Games. The usual drill is to throw a heavy lenticular disc weighing 1 Kg for women and 2 Kg for men at a distance that needs to be farther than your opponent. Discus throwing has been featured in a number of Greek statues – Discobolus followed by and Discophoros being the most famous ones.
In modern day, Discus throwing has been a part of the prestigious Olympics world since the 1896 Summer Olympics for men and for women, since the 1928 Summer Olympics.