The 4 Oldest Extreme Sports

The 4 Oldest Extreme Sports

When we talk about extreme sports, we often think of rafting, snowboarding, surfing, or rock climbing. However, all of these things could have just been regular activities for our ancestors back in ancient times. Indeed, the lifestyles back there were not to be envied. Life was dangerous, tough, and, often, short. However, if their lives were like that, what can we say about their sports? Let’s learn more about some of the most extreme sports of ancient times.  

Cliff diving

Let me start with a warning here that cliff diving in unfamiliar areas can be extremely dangerous. You should always explore the underwater before engaging in such a sport. We are only left to believe that our ancestors did the same. Many of our ancestors who lived by the deep lakes, oceans, or seas didn’t mind doing some cliff diving every once in a while. For example, in some ancient cultures in Hawaii or the Mayan culture, cliff diving was even a professional sport. 

The competitions were held, and the bravest of athletes were celebrated. You can even order a paper at a custom essay writing service about the status of athletes in ancient Maya culture. They had special cliffs that they knew were safe to use for jumping. Still, the long-distance of those cliffs required a lot of technical skills from those who dared to test their abilities. It’s safe to assume that at the time, this extreme sport was deadlier than in modern times. 

Mesoamerican ulama

Evidence about one of the first ball games to ever exist was found in Central and South America. The game was called Mesoamerican ulama, and it carried a religious aspect to it. The ball for the game weighed around 4kg (9Ibs) and was rather big to handle, not to mention that the weight of it was enough to break a spine during the game or even kill a person. But wait, the extreme part of this game only starts. Most professional athletes were skillful enough to avoid getting punched by the ball. 

The purpose of the game was to push the ball through special hoops on the sides of the platform. Players could use any part of their body to keep the ball bounce. The team that dropped fewer balls and scored more points won. The losing team was a sacrifice to the gods. So, this sport was more than extreme to consider that half of its players were destined to die. Still, that was one of our first ball games to be invented. 

Chariot racing

Apparently, people have loved speed since the beginning of time. Charity racing here can definitely prove this fact. During the Roman Empire, chariot racing was an incredibly popular sport that would gather together all the people of the huge cities. Of course, it’s fair to notice that Romans did love good entertainment, so racing had a lot of competition in this field. Still, it earned the status of the favorite sport among emperors. They preferred only watching, of course. It’s also interesting to notice that this was one of a few sports that women were also allowed to watch, probably since it wasn’t as bloody as the rest. 

Bull leaping

Overall, many sports that involve bulls are very, very old. And, of course, all sports with bulls are extreme. There is just no exception to that. A person who stands up to a huge, fierce, and very strong animal is a brave man who is obviously risking their lives every time when facing a bull. Surely, these days, the exploitation of animals in sports or entertainment is very much frowned upon. However, the ancient cultures had very opposite opinions about it. 

Sports that involved bulls were supposed to demonstrate an athlete’s courage, strength, and speed. Such sports included fighting, racing, and leaping. The latter was rather popular in ancient Europe and often used in rituals as well as in entertaining purposes. The goal here is to avoid the attack of an angry bull by making various acrobatic leaps around the bull. Often, some sort of a pole is used to increase the height and distance of the jump.  


People have always been drawn to dangerous and extreme sports. Of course, these days, the word extreme means a little less deadly than it used to in the past. Our lifestyles are getting safer, and it’s not as easy to risk our lives in games where our lives may be sacrificed to gods. Can you imagine football championships if this rule was still alive? Overall, this list just shows that people always loved testing their strength, smarts, and abilities, even in the face of death. These days, we haven’t lost this passion. Still, the purpose of modern sports is to make them less life-threatening, even in extreme situations. 

Sarah Del Rosario
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