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Bizarre Sports Origin Stories

Jenny Richards provides some exciting stories about the origins of some of our well-known sports.

Sports bring out the best in people. Human beings have always been drawn to the competitive outlet that sports provide. Sports themselves often have legends (mythical stories) associated with them. While some are believable, others are too good to be true. This article examines some of these myths related to our favourite sports.


Football began as a macabre display of one-upmanship: Legend has it that a Norse legion once came upon a citadel. They knocked on its gates and asked politely to be admitted into the walls, after which they were driven away as barbarians. This enraged the 'horde' so much that they besieged the citadel, conquered it, and decapitated its ruler. Then, the horde played a rather macabre game of passing the fallen ruler's head amongst themselves until they kicked it between two spears. The head, over time, came to be replaced by a spherical ball, and the game we know and love as football came into being!


Golf, a shepherd's idle pastime: In the rolling meadows of Scotland, shepherds, with flocks to graze, used to compete in a rather exciting game. They would hit stones with the iron crooks of their staves, and the stones that reached the farthest were agreed upon as winners. Over time, the stones came to be replaced by indented balls and the staves by golf clubs, but 'Tally Ho' cries to inform or warn anyone of flying stones (read balls) remain the same.


Polo to discipline troops: The imperial sport of Polo is said to have originated in Persia. It is said to have been the favourite way horsemen and cavaliers were trained about riding in formation, holding said formation and attacking on command, and in the most orderly fashion possible. Eventually, clubs and balls were added, and hundreds of royal families worldwide started calling this the sport of kings!


Basketball as a way to entertain rugby and football players in the winter months: The origins of basketball can be traced back to the Great White North, played in the winter months, college teams of football and rugby needed to practice but could not due to their pitches being inundated with snow. It was at this time that Dr James Naismith, devised a game where a literal fruit basket was hollowed out and suspended from a post, 10 feet off the ground; the objective of the game was to pass a ball through the basket, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Ice hockey

Ice hockey, because everything moves quicker on ice: While field hockey has been in existence for hundreds of years, the 'on ice' counterpart was invented by sheer accident. Canadians had been using skates to navigate over frozen surfaces for centuries, and one winter, a group of kids, wanting to play hockey got out of their homes to get to the field. Being winter, they wore their skates and discovered that the ball (eventually replaced by the 'puck') and the game's pace was a lot faster and more exciting! And thus, the Stanley Cup was born.


I hope you enjoyed this article on the novel's extreme and often bizarre origins of the sport.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • RICHRADS, J. (2014) Bizarre Sports Origin Stories [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Jenny Richards is a freelance writer who is very passionate about sports and fitness. She likes to collect information about sports and to read books.