hist-games: Encyclopedia of World Sports

Krzysztof Sawala atena at mtl.pl
Sun Jan 12 09:12:02 PST 2003


see it at www.sportencyclopedia.com

How many sports are there in the world?

Well, after years of research, we have to admit that we do not know, or - to be more precise - we do not know exactly. The first difficulty comes when we try to define what is and what is not a sport. In this book we consider sport as a form of human activity the outcome of which is determined by the physical, more than the intellectual, effort. This distinction rules out competitiveness as the sole or even principal element defining sport and is responsible for the fact that such acivities as board games (e.g. chess) or card games (e.g. bridge) are not included here, even though they have enjoyed the status of sports for a long time. After all, we have chess olympiads and bridge world championships, the participants of which compete against one another in order to determine the winner. Their 'intellectual' (as opposed to 'physical') nature and their immense number calls for further research and a separate publication. And yet, despite this restriction, we have compiled in this encyclopedia well over 3,000 (!) sports from all over the world. Although the sheer number may raise a few eyebrows, even this exhaustive effort is a compromise, because even as we struggle to 'finalize' our list, we discover that there are many, many more...

This encyclopedia is quite different from all international encyclopedias written so far, which focused mainly on well-known, major or international sports, barely noticing or completely neglecting the incredible cultural richness and great multitude of traditional, historical, regional, and folk sports and games of various nations, peoples, ethnic minorities, or tribes, many of which are fascinating not only for their differences, but, as often as not, their similarities. Who, outside of the local audience, has ever heard of the Indian CHUNGKE, Japanese HAGOITA, Polish CZOROMAJ, African ZUAR, Basque AIZKOLARIS, Mongolian BUZKASHI, Mayan POKYAH, Danish LANGBOLD FRA ANHOLT, Maori POI WAKA, Chinese CRICKET FIGHTS, Mexican PELOTA PURHEPECHA ENCENCIDA, Greek Orthodox CROSS DIVING, English ETON WALL GAME, Flemish KRULBOL, Vietnamese VOVINAM, Turkish MILAKIA or CAMEL WRESTLING, Germanic AGNON TOSS, Taiwanese WOODBALL, Hindu POT BREAKING, Thai KITE FIGHTING, Finnish PESAPALLO, Scottish CABER TOSSING, Hindu KABADDI, Portuguese JOGO DO PAU, French JEU DE FER, Italian GIOCO DEL PONTE, Irish IOMAINT, Pakistani GULI DUNDA, Korean GILSSAMNORI, Swedish GGET, Breton GALOCHE BIGOUDENE, and Spanish CASTELS, just to name a few. And what about the extinct sports of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome? The medieval chivalric sports like QUINTAIN or RUNNING AT THE RING? The multitude of animal sports like BEAR BAITING, QUAGGA, GOAT and PIGEON RACES? The splendid ancient equivalents of well-known modern international sports, such as JIQIU (Chinese POLO), ACROTERI PUNCHING (ancient Greek BOXING), JEU DE LA PAUME (French ROYAL TENNIS), BAZHIG KAMM (Mongolian WRESTLING)? Most of us associate HIGH JUMP with a horizontal bar, while in the Scottish HITCH AND KICK the object is to touch a suspended tambourine with one's foot.

This encyclopedia is full of breath-taking stories which present an endless richness of human sporting activity from pre-historical to modern times, including such relatively recent sporting extravaganzas as B.A.S.E. JUMPING, UNDERWATER FOOTBALL, SANDBOARDING, KITE SKIING, ZORBING, HORSEBALL, among many others. The result of years of research of a renowned sports historian, aided by leading world sports ethnographers and a group of devoted editors, the Encyclopedia of World Sports discusses the origins and cultural background of thousands of sports, along with the rules, attire, equipment, pitch, court or playing area. It is magnificently illustrated with hundreds of action photos by the world's leading sports photographers, unique photographs of local and traditional sports, reproductions of art masterpieces, drawings of rare sports prepared especially for this book, colorful charts and tables with results, records, and Olympic champions. It is by far the greatest effort ever undertaken to compile in one book the multitude of human sporting activities.
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