Blood sport

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Cockfight in Querétaro, Mexico
Terracotta plaque (1st century) depicting a venatio, or human-animal blood sport

A blood sport is a category of sport or entertainment that involves the killing or injuring of animals for the pleasure of spectators, or more broadly sports that involve bloodshed.[1] Common examples of the former include combat sports such as cockfighting and dog fighting and some forms of hunting. Activities characterized as blood sports, but involving only human participants, include the Ancient Roman gladiatorial games and the modern mixed martial arts (cage fighting).[2]


A hare caught by two greyhounds.

According to Tanner Carson, the earliest use of the term is in reference to mounted hunting, where the quarry would be actively chased, as in fox hunting or hare coursing. Before firearms a hunter using arrows or a spear might also wound an animal, which would then be chased and perhaps killed at close range, as in medieval boar hunting. The term was popularised by author Henry Stephens Salt.

Later, the term seems to have been applied to various kinds of baiting and forced combat: bull-baiting, bear-baiting, cockfighting and later developments such as dog fighting and rat-baiting. The animals were specially bred for fighting. In the Victorian era, social reformers began a vocal opposition to such activities, claiming grounds of ethics, morality and animal welfare.

Current issues

Hunting and recreational fishing

Animal rights and animal welfare advocates have sought to extend the term blood sport to various types of hunting. Trophy hunting and fox hunting in particular have been disparaged as "blood sports" by those concerned about animal welfare, animal ethics and conservation.[3]

Recreational fishing has sometimes been described as a blood sport by those within the recreation.[4]

Animal fighting

Limitations on blood sports have been enacted in much of the world. Certain blood sports remain legal under varying degrees of control in certain locations (e.g., bullfighting and cockfighting) but have declined in popularity elsewhere.[5][6] Proponents of blood sports are widely cited to believe that they are traditional within the culture.[7] Bullfighting aficionados, for example, do not regard bullfighting as a sport but as a cultural activity.[citation needed] It is sometimes called a tragic spectacle, because in many forms of the event, the bull is invariably killed and the bullfighter is always at risk of death.[citation needed]

Online videos

Many online video-sharing websites such as YouTube do not allow videos of animal bloodsports to be shown on the site.[8][9]

In fiction

Blood sports have been a common theme in fiction. While historical fiction depicts real-life sports such as gladiatorial games and jousting, speculative fiction, not least dystopic science fiction suggests variants of blood sports in a contemporary or future society. Some popular works themed on blood sports are Battle Royale, The Hunger Games, The Running Man, The Long Walk, Fight Club, Death Race 2000, Amores Perros, and "The Most Dangerous Game". Blood sports are also a common setting for video games (Unreal Tournament, Street Fighter etc.), making up much of the fighting game genre.

Developed science fiction universes such as Star Wars and Doctor Who feature different blood sports.

List of blood sports

Goose pulling in 19th-century West Virginia, as depicted by Frederic Remington
Before a ram fight, Iran, 1876-1925. One of 274 Vintage Photographs. Brooklyn Museum.




See also


  1. ^ "Blood sport". Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11 ed.). 2003. p. 134. ISBN 0-87779-807-9. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  2. ^ Cohen, Hagar (27 April 2012). "Cage fighting becoming the new blood sport". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  3. ^ Greenwood, George (2015) [1915]. "The Cruelty of Sport". In Salt, Henry S. Killing for Sport. George Bell & Sons. pp. 1–33. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  4. ^ Wyatt, Bob (2013). What Trout Want: The Educated Trout and Other Myths. Stackpole Books. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-8117-1179-1. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  5. ^ Lewine, Edward (July 2005). Death and the Sun: A Matador's Season in the Heart of Spain. Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 231. ISBN 0-618-26325-X. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  6. ^ Mitchell, Timothy (July 1991). Blood Sport: a social history of Spanish bullfighting. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 244. ISBN 978-0-8122-3129-8. 
  7. ^ Stratton, Jim (18 January 2005). "Cockfighting Persists as Underground Sport". Puerto Rico Herald. Archived from the original on 6 October 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  8. ^ Brooke, Simon (19 August 2007). "Animal cruelty films on YouTube". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 19 May 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  9. ^ Clarke, Matt (17 May 2007). "Uproar at fish cruelty on YouTube". Practical Fishkeeping. Archived from the original on 17 September 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 

Further reading

  • Don Atyeo, Blood and Guts: Violence in Sports, Grosset & Dunlap, 1979. ISBN 0448220008

External links

  • Irish Council Against Blood Sports
  • YouTube footage of a captive deer being pursued by hounds and horsemen
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals
  • Cage fighting and the rise of the UFC
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