Brutal Ancient Sports We Were Right to Leave Behind


The world of sports wasn't always as cultured as it is now. Some ancient sports were anything but civil; they were brutal to the point of terrifying the spectators and harming the participants. In the modern world, sportsmen play by strict rules and a code of conduct that keeps fair play and players' safety at the core of every game. 

These intensely fierce competitions quickly turned fatal for those who dared to participate. At times, those involved had no choice but to participate because it often came down to a pit fight between two warring cultures. A quick roundup of these wild ancient sports will tell you why we are so relieved to have left them behind. 

Pitz - The Mayan Way of Settling Scores

The Mayans were pretty serious about everything; even their games used lots of symbolism and had religious connotations. One of the most famous games played since 2500 BCE was Pitz. The central court, built to represent the underworld, served as the playing ground. It was shaped in an "I" with high platforms on the sides decorated with the faces of the Gods and demons. 

Pitz was a brutal game that often turned fatal. During the game, the mighty participants had to pass the soccer-sized ball through stone hoops hanging from the walls without using their hands. Sometimes, it was used to settle scores between opposing factions. It may sound like fun, but it indeed wasn't. 

Harpastum - The Roman Empire's Small Ball Game

Also known as the small ball game, Harpastum was popular in the Roman Empire. The rules were simple - the two teams had to keep the hard ball on their side of the field for as long as they could, using their skills to seize or snatch it from the opposing team's players. 

The physically exhausting game tests the players on their agility and speed. It's similar to rugby but more violent, with the participants often immobilized on the ground. Players were allowed to fight and wrestle with each other to get their hands on the ball, which often turned dangerous. Once, a spectator who accidentally got caught in the game ended up with a broken leg.