The 20 Most Dangerous Sports and Games From History
The 20 Most Dangerous Sports and Games From History

The 20 Most Dangerous Sports and Games From History

Shannon Quinn - December 21, 2020

The 20 Most Dangerous Sports and Games From History
Tug of war found its origins from the Vikings. Credit: Shutterstock

1. Viking Skin Pulling

With a name like “skin pulling”, it’s hard not to cringe at the sound of it. However, Viking Skin Pulling was nearly identical to our modern game of tug-of-war. But much like other things in ancient culture, they took the idea to the extreme. And adhered to some of the stereotypes that Vikings are known for… such as defiling women.

But instead of rope in a grassy field, the Vikings pulled on animal skins over a fire pit. The winners of the game could take more (if not all) of the spoils of the town they had just attacked. This also included choosing which women they could defile first. The losers often fell into the fire, and died soon after. There is a good chance that today, tug of war was adapted from this tradition to be more safe and accessible to people. Believe it or not, people actually have died and lost limbs from playing tug-of-war, too. So always be careful!

Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

25 Most Intense Sports of the Ancient World. Jason. List 25. 2021

Venationes. The University of Chicago.

Pankration: Violence, Glory and Death at the Ancient Olympic Games. Unpolished History. 2019.

Indonesia’s Ancient Pasola Festival. Gembong Nusantara. The Diplomat. 2014.

Buzkashi: Afghanistan’s Goat-Grabbing National Sport. Luke Bradshaw. Culture Trip. 2017.

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