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From Rocks and Spears to Laser Tag

The noisy, blood-soaked arenas were hugely popular, and they were later considered the main competition to the plays put on at theaters such as the Rose and the Globe. Even after Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe and Ben Johnson ushered in a golden age of English drama, audiences of all social classes continued to relish the visceral thrills of the bear pits. Queen Elizabeth I was said to be a bear-baiting fan, and once organized an exhibition for the visiting French ambassador.

Bull-baiting, in which dogs were set upon chained male cattle, was particularly popular. Bear-baiting in the 16th century. While many visitors to the Bear Gardens considered the violence to be exhilarating and even funny, the blood sports also won their fair share of critics.

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Puritan ministers and other clergymen denounced the arenas as dens of idleness and vice, and it was said that the games encouraged gambling, drunkenness and prostitution. Others were more disturbed by the violence being perpetrated against helpless animals. In ancient Rome, swordplay was a highly systemized form of combat that both soldiers and gladiators had to learn.


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After the fall of the Roman Empire and through the Middle Ages, sword training became less systematic and sword fighting took on a seedy reputation as criminals increasingly used the weapons to further their illicit pursuits. During the 15 th century, guilds of fencing masters came to prominence throughout Europe.

The English convention of using a cutting sword and with a buckler a small shield worn on the free arm was replaced by the rapier combat more prevalent in continental European countries.

The Italian fencing style emphasized speed and dexterity rather than force and was soon adopted throughout Europe. When the lunge was added, the art of fencing was born. Initially dismissed, the lighter court sword soon proved an effective weapon for a variety of movements impossible to achieve with earlier blades. Hits could be made with sword-point only, while the side of the blade was used for defense.

It was from these innovations that modern fencing evolved. The French school of sword fighting focused on strategy and form, and specific rules were adopted to teach it. A practice sword, known as the foil, was introduced for training. Rowing has been in existence as long as people have traveled by boat, however, the first historic reference to rowing as a sport dates to an Egyptian funerary carving from the 15 th century BC. Roman poet Virgil mentions rowing in the Aeneid. A race between London Bridge and Chelsea Harbor has been held annually since The event has been held annually since Similar rowing rivalries, most notably those between Harvard, Yale, and the U.

Yale challenged Harvard to its first intercollegiate boat race in Rowing became an Olympic sport in The United States took gold that year, and again in The English won gold medals in and , after which the United States ditched professional rowers, and instead, tapped the best college team to compete at the Games. The U.

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Naval Academy went on to beat the British team, recapturing the gold medal. The trend continued from to , however, by then, the nature of American sports was changing.

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As the immense popularity of collegiate basketball and football grew, interest in rowing waned. While still wildly popular at some schools, rowing will likely never regain its former widespread audience. David N. Mullany of Shelton, Connecticut invented the Wiffle ball in A Wiffle ball is a variation of a baseball that makes it easy to hit a curveball.

Hacky sack a. Paintball was born when a group of 12 friends playing "Capture the Flag" added the element of firing at one another with the tree-marking guns. After investing with a tree marking gun manufacturer called Nelson, the group began promoting and selling the guns for use in the new recreational sport.

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In , George A. As anyone writing a compendium on the history of sports can tell you, there's a staggering amount of information to sift through and only so much time. That said, the ones included in this list should give you a fair sampling of the popular athletic endeavors that continue to fascinate sporting enthusiasts around the globe.

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Share Flipboard Email. Mary Bellis, known by some as CalmX, was an experimental artist, film director and producer, video game content creator, and freelance writer for some 18 years. She specialized in writing about inventors and inventions, in particular. Bellis died in March Updated August 23, Cricket: The game of cricket originated in south-east England sometime in the late 16th century. By the 18th century, it had become the national sport, making inroads globally in the 19th and 20th centuries. The prototype for the modern cricket bat featuring a willow blade and a cane handle layered with strips of rubber, and then tied with twine and covered with another layer of rubber to form a grip was invented around The longest recorded game of cricket took place in and spanned a period of nine days.

The most popular sport played around the world today, Association football soccer , has its origins from China see Soccer History.

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There is evidence in China that military forces around 2nd and 3rd century BC Han Dynasty played a game, originally named "Tsu Chu", that involved kicking a leather ball stuffed with fur into a small hole. Like Soccer, no hands were permitted during the play of the game. See a timeline of significant events in the history of sport. Share: Facebook Twitter.