Sports have been around since humanity figured out how to stand on two feet. They've helped us challenge and entertain ourselves. But some of them haven't been as popular as baseball, football or soccer ... and for very good reasons!
Up until the 18th century, the people of England would throw a series of weighted sticks at a rooster who was tied to a post and had very little movement to shy away from the oncoming target. Spectators would place bets which made it really popular. However, if the rooster was dazed but not killed, the player had a chance to try and grab it before it fully recovered and take it home with him.
Despite the fact that some people continue to practice this sport, a hundred years ago, people actually used loggerhead turtles and placed them in water to race. They even had their offspring riding on their backs as a crowd of spectators shouted and screamed. This sport originated in the Bahamas and is a far cry from the turtle races we see when we take our kids to a fair.
This pub sport involves two teams hurling a cloth soaked in beer called a dwile at the other person's head. One player holds a pole with the dwile while the opponent dances in a circle around him. The player must hit one of the other players with the dwile. If he loses, the opposing team forms a straight line and the loser must drink a pot of beer before the dwile gets passed from player to player down the line.
Before a knight could officially enter a jousting tournament in medieval times, he had to first train in a sport called quintain. This involved charging towards a stationary target (quintain) that was basically a shield balanced on a pole. The quintain spun if it was accurately hit. But an incorrect strike would cause it to spin in such a way that it could knock the human target off his horse.
In the 17th and 18th century, Europe's upper class had a favorite pastime that involved a large enclosed area and lots of foxes. Each team member held the end of a sling on the ground. When the foxes ran over the sling, both players would pull hard in order to throw the fox in the air. Whichever team managed to throw the fox the highest would become the winner.
Eel pulling originated in the Netherlands back in the 19th century and there were two versions of the sport. One was a classic tug-of-war but they used a soaped up eel instead of a rope. The second version involved players jumping to grab a hanging eel that dangled over a line as they rode a boat through a canal. In some cases, players would fall off the boat trying to catch the eel.
Episkyros was a sport in Ancient Greece that the elderly, children and women played. It involved 2 teams separated by a line, plus two more lines drawn behind each team. One team threw the ball over the other and attempted to advance while the opponent recovered. The 2nd team grabbed the ball, threw it back and pushed the other players back. The winner was determined by the first team that pushed their opponent over the line behind them.
Barking Off Squirrels
In the 18th and 19th century, "barking off" was an American pastime created in Kentucky. The goal of the game was that instead of shooting a squirrel, you would shoot at the bark below it. The impact of the bullet would be so powerful that even though it didn't hit the squirrel directly, it would still kill it. Oh and you got extra points if the skin wasn't damaged.