The art of athleticism, or to put it in more simpler terms, sports, remains a permanent staple within international culture. From the ancient Egyptians to the Romans, from America to Africa and Asia, the transcendence of sports in global cultures is signifcantlly overwhelming, with well known events such as the Super Bowl, the World Series, Wimbeldon & the Olympics[1] . But where exactly does our love for sports came from ? One does not need to look far to find that sporting events, sporting traditions and our overall love for the game can be attributed toward Ancient Greek civilization.

Sports were regarded as a permanent fixture for leisure activity in Ancient Greek culture. In fact, sports were considered one of the most popular forms of entertainment back then. Ancient Greeks loved playing sports and most cities in Ancient Greece had public gymnasiums where people would normally train[2] . The Greeks believed that a healthy body was very important. Males, in particular played sports every day because they enjoyed them and wanted to keep fit[3] . Some of the most notable sports played in Ancient Greece thant are not to different from the sports we see today are chariot racing, wrestling, boxing, pankration and the stadion race.


1. Chariot Racing
02cc917.jpgChariot racing was a popular equestrian event in Ancient Greece. Chariot racing was so popular that it was sometimes the first sport shown during the Ancient Greek Olympics[4] . The course normally consisted of 12 double laps. In this public event, a horse would pull a two wheeled cart, which would be then driven by a charioteer. Because charioteers would normally prefer to stand than sit while driving the chariot, this popular Greek sport created many dangerous situations. In fact, Pindar, an ancient Greek lyric poet , chronicles the story of a chariot race in which 40 eams entered, but only one finished.[5]

Modern Equivalent: Racecar Driving
Texternal image NASCAR_Racing_box_art.pnghe dynamics that created the foundation of chariot racing are not that different from the dynamics that make up racecar driving. Both sports are similar in the fact that they both take place on raceways . In addition, both sports are typically dangerous and often involve risking many lives as the result of collisions,

2. Wrestling
external image Pankratiasten_in_fight_copy_of_greek_statue_3_century_bC.jpg
Wrestling is one of the very few sports that can be traced back to ancient Greek civilizaton. The first known match of Ancient Greek wrestling took place in 708 B.C.. In Ancient Greece, the were two forms of wrestling, the Kato Pale and the Orthia Pale. The Kato Pale was a ground fighting style in which a point was awarded if the opponent's back touched the groundwhile the Orthia Pale was more focused on takedowns[6] . Today, wrestling still remains a popular sport within modern culture today, with many prominent wrestling associations such as the WWE .thumbnailCAURXJFI.jpg

3. Boxing
357px-nama_agtttkrotiri_2.jpgAncient Greek boxing dates back as early to the eight century BC and was practiced in a numerous variety of social events. It is believed that boxing was orginally developed in Sparta. According to Homer's epic The Illiad, Mycanean warriors utilized boxing in their competitions to honor fallen heroes. In fact, boxing was just one of many contests that took place during the memorial of Achilles' dead friend, Patroclus in the aftermath of the Trojan War. This is were its popularity truly took centerfold. Boxing was later introduced in the Ancient Greek Olympics in 688 BC. Competitors in boxing matches practiced on punching bags called a korykos. Fighters would adorn themselves with leather straps called himinates over thier wrists, hands and sometimes chest to be protected[7] .

Today, boxing still remains a popular sport in present day time. The only minimal difference is that when competing , modern day boxers adorn boxing gloves that would fully cover their hands and fingers, instead of himinates that only cover their wrests and hands.

4. Pankration

Pankration was an ancient Greek sport that was a unique combination of boxing and wrestling. Pankration was introduced into the Olympics in 648 BC. Punches were allowed when competing, but fighters did not wrap their hands in himinates like they did when they were simply boxing. There were some rules that were outlawed when engaged in pankration, such as biting and gouging of the eyes, nose or mouth[8] .

Modern Equivalent: MMA Fighting
thumbnailCAPHKXDF.jpgModern day MMA fighting is very similar to pankration. Both sports involve a significant combation of wrestling and hand to hand combat. In addition, both sports aviod the use of boxing gloves and promote the use of hminates, covering only their hands and wrists.

5. The Stadion Race

The stadion race was an ancient running event that took place in Ancient Greek Olympics as well as other Greek sporting events. The game was named after the builidng in which it took place, called the stadion as well[9] . In this competiion, runners would start the stadion race in a standing position and would proceed to run naked. Stadion racing in Ancient Greek civilization is extremely similar to modern day running competitions in contemporary society.

//At the core of the social aspect of sports were a myriad of competitions that were a clear testament to the fighting power, determination and athletic prowess displayed within Ancient Greece. It was said the most athletic traditions started at Olympia at the Peloponnesos in 776 B.C[10] . Around sixth century B.C, games were normally occupied by a vast majority of greek city states. More specifically, games were more constructed to honor certain gods and goddesses. Some of the games held in Ancient Greece were the Pythian Games, Isthmian Games,and of course the Olympic Games
The Pythian Games
Apollo, the greek god of music, art and poetry

The Pythian Games were one of four Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece, held every four years at the site of Apollo's sanctuary, located in Delphi[11] . The primary intention of this event was not really the glorification of atlhetics, but more of a celebration of Apollo and his prominence . Since Apollo was the god of music and poetry, the Pythian Games contained competitions in a vast majoirty of artistic arenas, such as singing and poetry, both of which were intertwined with athletic competions, such as well. ''The music and poetry competitions, in fact pred dated the athletic portion of the games.'' They were said to be started by Apollo after he killed Python and set up the Oracle at Delphi[12] . A four horse chariot race was conducted in a hippodrome in the plain not too far from the sea. The grand prize during the game was a wreath of laurel. In Ancient Greek Culture, laurel is said to be derived from the latin word "laus" which meant praise.[13]

Isthmian Games
Posiedon, the greek god of water

The Isthmian Games were held every 2 years in Ancient Greece. Usually held in the spring in the city of Corinth, the Isthmian Games were designed with the intention of honorng Poseidon, the Greek god of water. The prize for the winner of these games were pine.
The most prominent sporting competition in ANcient Greece were the Olympics. The Ancient Greek Olympics began in 776 BC as a religious ceremony honoring Zeus, the father of all gods. Since then, they were held every four years until 394 AD[14] . In order to participate, competitiors had to swear an oath that they were free born citizens, meaning that slaves were not allowed to play in these games[15] . In addition, women were generally forbidden from playing as well. However, they well allowed to engage in equestrain events under the condition that they owned either a chariot or horse. Competitions in the early Olympics were normally comprised of races. However other types of competitions that took place were the long jump, javelin throwing, wrestling and horse racing.

The winners of these competitions were adorned with crowns made from olive leaves taken from the burial place of Zeus. A winner also received the option of having a statue of himself set up at the site in Olympia. Upon returning to his hometown, a victor was endowed with a great deal of notoriety from his homeland and received treats such as free meals and the best seats at public events. The adulation that an athlete recieves in his homeland is not that different to the praise and treatments that we have given to fellow citzens who have done well in Olympic competitions, such as Michael Phelps an[16] d Mark Spitz, both of whom successes as athletes have earned them both notoriety as celberities and overnight sensations. Today, the Olympics are still celebrated today and takes place every four years. The only difference is that it takes place in different countries instead of only bieng situated in Greece every year.
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