The ancient Greeks were huge sports fans. The sports and Ancient Greek Games today date back to the original Olympic Games between 776 B.C and 394 A.D, introduced by the Greeks.
They loved sports and most cities in Ancient Greece had public gymnasiums where people gathered to train and relax. The Greeks strongly believed that a healthy body was very important. Sports was seen as the best way to keep fit.
Ancient Greek Games
Religion played a major role in these competitions. It was believed that winning was a sign of favor from the gods. Some believed that the winners were predetermined by the gods. Athletic festivals included an entire day of sacrifices to the deities. Cheaters were banned from sports forever because it was believed that they had insulted the gods.
The sport was a good preparation for war too. The Greek armies had to be fit enough to march long distances, carrying all their heavy equipment, and then begin the fight with the enemy.
Ancient Greek Olympic Games
The Greeks had four national sports festivals, where athletes from different city-states competed against one another. The most important of the sports contests was the Olympic Games. Greece is the home country of the Olympic Game.
These were played at Olympia, every four years, in honor of Zeus. On the first day of the Olympics, sacrifices of grain, wine, and lambs were made to Zeus.
According to the Olympic Museum, athletic competitions lasted five days and included only individual events, no team sports. Athletes competed in events such as running, long jump, javelin, and discus.
There were also equestrian events, such as chariot races and horseback riding. One day included combat sports, such as boxing and wrestling. The original Greek Olympic Games allowed boys to compete in their age group.
However owing to the inaccuracy of birth records, the Olympic and Panathenaic Game only had three groups, namely the boys, youths, and men. Boys were forbidden to compete in the martial art called pankration, a form of wrestling and boxing, and also the pentathlon till 200 B.C. as both these sports were considered too dangerous for children.
The best athletes in Greece competed in different events. Non-athletic Ancient Greek Games, such as dice, marbles, and checkers were also common in ancient Greece.Children in ancient Greece played games like Morra, Knucklebones, and Ostrakinda.