Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now




4 Discontinued Olympic Sports

Posted on October 27, 2017 by Daniel Bailey

Tug of War-OlympicsThe Olympics is known for its world-class athletes and diverse sports. Throughout the years, this quadrennial event has undergone many changes including the elimination of certain sports. Some of these sports were dropped due to a lack of popularity or qualified athletes or just seemed to no longer fit the Olympic program. Here are some sports that were once part of the Olympic Games but have since been discontinued.

Jeu de Paume

This game was played only once as a medal event at the 1908 Olympics in London, but a version of the game was featured at the 1900 Paris Olympics as an exhibition sport. Played with balls and racquets on an indoor court, jeu de paume is considered to be the original form of tennis and sometimes referred to as “royal” or “real” tennis. Although the scoring for this event was much more complicated, some of the overall objectives of the game are similar to today’s version of tennis.

Live Pigeon Shooting

Making its only appearance at the 1900 Olympics, the objective of this event was to shoot as many live pigeons as possible from a 27-meter distance. Six birds were released at a time, and any shooter who missed two or more birds was eliminated from the competition. Many dead and injured birds and a gruesome mess were left in the wake of this event, and it was fortunately discontinued after these Olympics. Clay targets are used instead of live pigeons in today’s shooting events.

Tug of War

Proving that the game isn’t just for schoolchildren, tug of war was a seriously contested Olympic sport from 1900 to 1920. Opposing teams would stand opposite one another and pull on a rope to try to force each other a certain distance forward. Given the strength and stamina that are required for this event, athletes would likely be stocking up on protein bars and energy drinks like those made by Monster Energy if it were still being contested in today’s Olympics. In addition to energy drinks made by companies like Monster Energy Corp, modern-day tug of war competitors would also likely have special shoes, apparel and other equipment to help them in the game.

Special Figures

Today, figure skating is contested as a Winter Olympic sport, but it actually made its debut at the 1908 Summer Olympics. One of the events was the men’s special figures, which involved tracing intricate patterns with skates on the ice. Tracings on the ice were made to resemble objects like flowers, clovers and other unique objects. The athlete with the most precise patterns was declared the winner. Compulsory figures, which don’t involve as intricate of patterns, took the place of special figures once figure skating debuted as a Winter Olympic sport in 1924. Ironically, today’s Olympic figure skating includes no figures events.

Even though these sports have been dropped from the Olympic Games, they still required great athletic abilities and earned their rightful places in history. Some of these sports have even shaped today’s Olympic events and paved the way for modern athletes to achieve success.


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