The Origins of Sport January 09 2017, 0 Comments
As long as we have records of history there is evidence of people engaging in sport. Cave paintings, assumed to have been painted over 15 centuries ago have been found in France, depicting figures wrestling and sprinting. In Iraq a brass casting of two wrestlers was found among other remnants dated c2600 BC.
Ancient Greece has a well-known sporting heritage. The earlier forms of gymnastics took the form of religious bull-leaping and possibly bullfighting. In Homer’s poem, The Iliad, there are many portrayals of sport.
Monuments to the Egyptian Pharoahs (c200 BC) suggest many sports existed during those times, including weight-lifting, long jump, swimming, rowing, flying (believe it or not!), shooting, fishing and athletics, javelin throwing, high jump and even a form snooker.
Predictably, Greece first instituted formal sporting events with the Olympic Games first registered in 776 BC, Olympia, where we see the inclusion of boxing and athletics (run either naked or in armour!) as well as the sport of discus throwing amongst others. Unlike today where an athlete may receive a medal or a trophy in the form of a cup or a shield, a wreath usually made from an aromatic leaf (bay laurel) or the wild olive tree was awarded to the winners. Laurel wreaths are depicted on many contemporary trophies today, being recognized as a symbol of both sporting and academic victory.
Sport was played in it's many forms in many other countries in ancient times, such as China, Persia and Scotland.
During the middle ages, entire villages would compete against each other, sometimes in organized violent sports – a sort of war games. In contrast, Italy participated in jousting and fencing. In Great Britain, horse racing was a favourite of the well-healed. In 1711, The English Queen Anne founded the Ascot Racecourse, which has remained closely associated with Royalty ever since. The Royal Meeting held each June remains a major draw card, it’s highlight being the Gold Cup.
In more modern times, British colonialism helped spread particular games around the world such as cricket, football and tennis. The advent of the industrial revolution brought both increased leisure time and mass production, opening up various sports as a leisure activity to many more than ever before.
Today, we are spoiled for choice and sport has become an essential part of education and social activity for both participants and spectators. Without the cup, the medal, the trophy or just the humble wreath, the game would lose it’s edge and perhaps it’s players, too! The award for victory has always been recognized as a necessity and is not about to change now.