The Origin Stories Of 6 Modern Day Sports That No One Taught You In School
Can you just imagine India without its cricket obsession? The gully’s would be quiet, the window panes unbroken and Uncles just wouldn’t know what to watch on TV anymore!
Whether we play them or just enjoy watching them being played, sports are a big part of our lives. They’re also a part of our national identity, besides being a billion dollar industry.
But have you ever wondered how these sports got their start? Here’s the lowdown:
In the Beni Hasan tombs in Egypt, Archaeologists found 4,000-year-old drawings of men playing a simplistic version of Hockey. In the middle ages, variations of the game began popping up in various European countries. The game of “cambuca” was played in England, “shinty” was played in Scotland, “jeu de mail” was played in France, and “het kolven” was played in the Netherlands.
The sport as we know it today, however, originated in England in the mid-18th century. The very first Hockey Association was founded in 1886 and it was then that the first set of official rules were created. The Royal Army spread the game throughout the British Empire and the sport was permanently adopted at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam.
The second most popular sport in the world is believed to have begun in 13th century rural England, where it was played by shepherds. A ball of rags or wool was pitched at the target – the wicket gate of the sheep paddock. An opposing player would use a shepherd’s staff to prevent the ball from hitting the target. Gaining regional popularity, it continued to evolve throughout the centuries.
The first recorded 11-to-a-side match was played in 1697 in Sussex for a prize of 50 guineas. Eight years later, the first inter-county match happened between Kent and Surrey. The oldest known written rules for the game date back to 1744.
At the International YMCA Training School in Massachusetts, Dr. James Naismith was tasked with finding a suitable activity for a group of “incorrigibles.” Forced to remain indoors because of the winter, the boys were bored. So drawing inspiration from “Duck on a Rock”, a game he played as a child, Naismith invented Basketball as we know it today. Two peach baskets were hung high up at each end of the gym and a soccer ball was used to score. The first game was played on December 21, 1891.
Eventually, the peach baskets had holes cut in the bottom because it got too tiresome to keep climbing up a ladder to retrieve the ball. From there the game got faster and grew in popularity. Naismith lived to see it adopted into the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Games similar to Football have been played right since 2,500 B.C. and continued to be played all the way through the middle ages. In Ancient Egypt, people kicked a ball around during the feast of the fertility. Soldiers in China played a sport called “cuju” to keep fit. The point of the game was to kick a leather ball stuffed with feathers through a cloth hung between two posts. In Ancient Rome, a similar game was played with 27 players on each team, who got injured and killed a lot.
The contemporary age of Football began in 1863 when the Football Association in England was formed. This governing body laid down the rules and regulations that defined the modern-day game. Today, it is the most popular sport in the world.
The foundations of tennis were laid around 1000 A.D. when it was played by French monks in a monastery. Instead of racquets, they would use their hands to hit a wooden ball across a rope that stretched across a courtyard. The monks would yell ‘tenez’, which is French for ‘to take’, while they served the ball, giving the modern sport its name.
Over the next two centuries, the game gained popularity throughout Europe and by the 13th century, there were 1,800 indoor courts. The ball was played off walls with roved galleries and a number of openings. Players won points by hitting the ball into netted windows beneath the roves.
Soon, wooden frame racquets laced with sheep guts and balls made from cork came into use. But it was only in 1873 that modern tennis emerged when the rules were first published. The first tennis tournament was held at Wimbledon in 1877 when the court shape and size and method of scoring were standardized.
The foundations of Golf as we know it today were laid in Scotland in the mid-15th century. The game included swinging a club at a ball and moving it from point A to point B using the least amount of strokes possible. But there is evidence of golf-like games being played throughout the Netherlands centuries before the game first appeared in Scottish literature in 1636. For example, a game named “colf” was played in 1297 in the small Dutch town of Loenen aan de Vecht.
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