Past and future of sports

By Sergio González | 12:48

Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, venue of first Modern Olympics in 1896

Life was a scary place for our forebears. Constant violence -whether from Nature or human origined- threatened us since the very beginning and so they understood sports as the necessary improvement to survive in a rough world.

When Faster and Stronger allowed you to see another sunrise

Living surrounded by water demanded powerful rowing and sailing skills from our early ancestors so Va’a in Polynesiatraditional canoe racing in the open sea- came to life. Training regularly and competing to become better gave their fruits, helping the Polynesian society master the sea and thrive.

Many centuries have gone by since the first humans arrived to these lost islands -certainly boarding canoes- but Hawaiki Nui Va’a can still be enjoyed every November (in French) . Dozens of contestans row for more than 80 miles between Huanine and Bora Bora to gain the favour of the gods and the homage of a passionate audience.

When winning meant your opponent’s blood.

Within expanding empires, such as Rome, physical empowerment and environment dominatio were the focus.

Venatio was a morning hunting collection of games performed in amphitheatres. Showing off far brought cocodriles and lions to later make them fight to death was the threshold of the real stuff. A venator and several beast-fighters would die trying to hunt twenty elephants with nets and spears. North-African species were used in these games.

In the Aztec ballgame, players scored by hitting the opponent’s wall with a nine pound rubber ball or threading it with their hips through a really high narrow goal. The one interested in winning may have been slightly altered since the losing team would cede their nine pound heads to be the ball in the after-party.

McFly's Back to the Future hoverboard

The Greek Revival

In the 19th century, a wealthy Greek landowner -and army officer during Greek War of Independece from the Ottoman Empire- proposed the newly appointed King Otto the revival of Olympic Games after reading a nationalist poem. In 1859 Greek and Turkish athletes competed in Athens according to the ancient rules. Mr. Zappas defrayed the restoration of the Panathenaic Stadium -entirely in marble- and left a trust later used by Pierre de Coubertain and the International Olympic Committee to begin the Modern Era in 1896.

The games would begin to be held every four years -with three war-exceptions- becoming a symbol of respect and international peace. Actually, violence couldn’t be further from sports nowadays –during London 2012 we’ve seen several banned athletes for twittering racists comments.

Sci-Fi future?

Sports are evolving looking for new playgrounds and devices -the trends are going extreme and creating high-tech athletes. Records are set higher everyday and the use of robotics and reactive materials are leaving room for inteligent yet ingestible computers and bionic bones. Since Michael J. Fox rode a hoverboard in Back to the Future II, who hasn’t dreamt about it? Well, it might be here in 2015.

If we look beyond, could we imagine ourselves diving Earth’s orbit or practising low gravity gymnastics? Less than sixty years ago, Edmun Hillary and Tenzing climbed the summit of Mount Everest, up to then unbeatable. Maybe it’s time to start thinking about Mount Olympus, a 14000 miles high volcanoe in the close Mars.

 Photo Credit: Pop Culture Geek

 Photo Credit: Adamsofen


  • By Olympics now and then | NH Hotels Blogs on 24 August, 2012 at 13:28

    […] The games would have continued to be celebrated and worshipped by the Olympians until the Christian Emperor of Rome banned them 12 centuries later. Theodosio was determined to reunite the scattered empire by religion uniformity so in 394 AD he named them pagan and erased its history until 1896. […]

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