Weird Sports That Used to Be In the Olympics
The Olympics originated in ancient Greece over 3,000 years ago. It was designed as a time of peace, where nations could show off their best athletes. In the late 19th century, we revived this concept and opened up the games to the world. During the first few years of the Olympics, the sporting events weren’t yet settled. There were several very surprising events that used to take place.
- Live Pigeon Shooting: This event only made it to the Olympics one time during the 1900 Olympics at Paris. Over 300 birds were killed during this one event. The Belgian, Leon de Lunden, took out 21 birds to take the title. No one ever got a chance to beat his record, because it only appeared once. Later, in 1921, the UK made pigeon shooting illegal. The live pigeons were replaced with clay pigeons, which we still use for targets to this day.
- Tug Of War: This childhood classic game was once an Olympic event. This simple game isn’t just for field day in elementary school. It has specific rules and was once a well respected sporting event. Tug of War made it to the Olympics 5 times, from 1900-1920. (There were no Olympic Games held during 1916 due to WWI.) A team of 8 men had 5 minutes to pull a rope with the opposing team on the other end 6 feet over a central line. If no one made it over the line before 5 minutes, then the team that pulled the rope the furthest, won. America, stand proud–a team from the Milwaukee Athletic Club competed and took home the gold in 1904.
- Croquet: You may be asking yourself–What is croquet, again? You may have seen this outdoor game played in movies with affluent Europeans in it. Croquet originated in France around the 1800s. It is a series of hoops or wickets that are stuck in the ground, and the players must get a ball through the hoops using mallets. This sport only showed up once in the Olympics in the year 1900 at Paris. It was removed from the Olympiad event list, after only 1 spectator showed up to watch the event.On a side note, this was the only sport that women were allowed to enter and play. They played alongside their male counterparts, which is uncommon, even for today.
- Rope Climbing: This event showed up 5 times in the Olympiad from 1896 to 1932. The athletes started in a seated position and would only use their arms to climb the rope. In 1896, the contestants climbed to the top of a 49 foot rope. In later years, they shortened the rope to 25 feet. In 1904, a team from St. Louis, Missouri entered the event. George Eyser took home the gold, which is incredibly impressive because he had one wooden leg.
Since its inception, the Olympics have been a major global initiative for the world’s nations to come together peaceable and compete in athletic strength. Even though the spo
rting events come and go, the idea remains the same. It’s a beautiful thing to see people of every nationality shine in so many different arenas.