Extinct Sports That Are Extinct for a Reason

Every so often, new sports are created, and some become so popular that they get added to the Olympic roster. Similarly, there have been sports which were popular, but for one reason or another, have gone extinct. Although many of them are still known today, largely thanks to history books, these sports would break not only safety and health violations, but animal rights activists would have a field day trying to take these sports out. Here’s a list of the sports that became extinct for good reason. 

1. Jousting

One of the most popular medieval sports was jousting and the winners were often rewarded with the hand of the royal or the lady of their choice. What started as training exercises for real battles became a popular sport during the 15th century but by the 18th century, the sport had become nothing more than theatrical reenactments held by medieval societies. During a jousting tournament, two men wearing armor would speed towards each other on horses while holding lances. The goal was to knock their rival off their horse, but horses and people often died from it, one of the most famous being King Henry II of France.

2. Board Track Racing

Board track racing was an extremely popular motorsport during the early half of the 20th century. It consisted of motorcyclists speeding around a wooden track which can be likened to a velodrome. The tracks were cheap to make but were expensive to maintain and they would have to be reconstructed every three years. The bikes used in the sport were built to reach maximum speed and brakes were never added to the bikes. As you can imagine many people were injured and the sport earned a gruesome nickname to reflect its death toll. By the 1930s the sport completely disappeared. 

3. Naumachia

Romans were some of the biggest sports enthusiasts and although they were mostly known for chariot racing and gladiator fights, there are more to Roman sports than the ones previously mentioned. Naumachia, first held to celebrate Caesar’s victory of Pompeii, consists of ships being built in water-filled arenas with prisoners manning the ships and going to battle. Much like other Roman sports, the event was watched by thousands. Unfortunately, it was much too costly to maintain, both in terms of finances and human lives. The sport disappeared with the turn of the century. 

4. Fox Tossing 

Fox Tossing is exactly as its god-awful name says, and for much of the 17th and 18th centuries, fox tossing was a relatively popular sport, mostly among European nobility. Foxes, and sometimes other animals, would be released in an arena where teams of two would stand across each other with material waiting to fling unsuspecting foxes as they ran by. The team who threw a fox the highest was declared the winner. The foxes who were not injured on the field would be laid to rest after the tournament. We’re glad to know that it was discontinued altogether. 

5. Pankration

Pankration was an extremely popular sport during the early Olympics and although it was discontinued, traces of the sport can be seen in others. In its earliest stages, Pankration involved contestants being oiled up with no clothing who would then fight to the death. Apart from being told no biting or gouging out body parts, contests could use any technique to get rid of their opponent. Later on, they were allowed to wear wrapping and contestants were allowed to concede defeat.



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