Ancient sports are seriously epic!
People nowadays enjoy sports as an engaging entertainment source but let me tell you that sports events from the ancient world are out of this world, at least by today’s standards. If you’re finding yourself getting excited over amazing football highlights or Floyd Mayweather’s best punches, ancient sports will blow your imagination. It's actually really super intense and it may not be suitable for children. Nah, even some adults will find it too intense.
David Beckham kicking a ball. That’s like boring compared to what we’re about to dive into!
First up, we have pankration. The closest equivalent modern day sport would be Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) but MMA has got no grips on pankration simply because pankration has no rules. NO RULES. Fine, there are actually 2 rules to abide by: don’t bite and don’t gorge out your opponents eyes.
2 handsome, young Greek men will unleash an array of punches, kicks, locks, submissions and whatever moves one can think of on one another until one surrenders. To surrender, one loses the match. However, if one dies during the bout, they’re held in high regard as they are deemed to possess the iron will to not quit. Imagine Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao going at each other in a pankration match up! None of that boring defensive boxing we saw in what was billed as the “Fight of the Century”. The bout was so boring that many termed it “Better never than late.” One can only imagine how epic a no-holds barred round of pankration would be.
Oh yeah! They fight naked, bare naked.
Remember that game, Battleship? It isn’t the most entertaining and you can hardly get people to watch it. The Romans realised it so they fill an arena with water, add a bunch of boats and recreate famous naval battles. REAL BATTLESHIPS!
Real battleships, real humans, real water and countless gory deaths.
Imagine a dozen of battleships and thousands of participants (mostly Prisoner-of-war (POW) or criminals on death row) fighting out "Pearl Habour" style right in front of you, without the Computer-generated Imagery (CGI) effects. Real explosions, real blood and real screams of pain. As if watching the team you bet on literally sink right in front of you would not have been bad enough, it was not out of the ordinary to see many of these men slipping around on their own blood in the process.
If that isn't intense enough for you, do know that Naval warfare in Ancient Rome also featured a lot of flamethrowers armed with a type of napalm called Greek Fire. So, never mind the water dyed red with blood and bodies floating everywhere, you were also likely to see a few thousand "sailors" get burned alive as well. That explains the smoke in the super realistic painting.
How about an ancient team game? Team games are always fun and exciting. It also promotes teamwork, camaraderie and communication. In Venatio, you and your teammates must face a monster known as "the Beast of Carthage," which in modern English translates to 20 elephants. It’s hard to say whether this ancient death match was worse for the slaves or the animals recruited to fight them. In fact, the Romans were so intrigued with pitting humans against animals that on the inauguration of the Colosseum over 9,000 beasts were pitted against humans and killed.
Many times, the humans met a similarly unfortunate fate. For instance, in some cases, the humans were not given any weapons at all and the wild animals, such as starved lions or elephants, were meant to win. These matches also often included the telling of some drama with the humans as the central characters of the plot. These types of weaponless “matches” were meant to be executions done in such a way as to provide entertainment for the masses at the same time.
Exotic animals are brought in from all corners of the Roman Empire to this abomination of a circus, execution stage, fight ring and theater combined. The Romans actually played this game so frequently that they drove the North African elephant to extinction.
These aforementioned 3 "sports" are only just 3 of the more well known events in ancient times. Looking at the similar thirst for violence, one can only imagine if there are actually recreational sports that did not require us to beat each other to pulp. That being said, ancient sports are just really epic and honestly, too intense for people of our age to stomach.