Blood sport

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

Blood sport or Bloodsport is a category of sports or entertainment that causes bloodshed. It is defined by Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as "a sport or contest (as hunting or cockfighting) involving bloodshed".[1] Alternatively, the Cambridge Online Dictionary defines blood sport as "any sport that involves animals being killed or hurt to make the people watching or taking part feel excitement".[2]

Bloodsport includes coursing, combat sports such as cockfighting and dog fighting, or other activities of human-animal blood sport. These usually involve blood being drawn, and often result in the death of one or more animals.


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, confined and forced to fight. In the Victorian era, social reformers began a vocal opposition to such activities, claiming grounds of ethics, morality and animal welfare.

Current issues

Changes in usage of the term blood sport illustrate the depth of the linguistic and social complexities of social evolution.

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 widely 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 website such as YouTube do not allow videos of animal bloodsports to be shown on the site.[8][9]

Human blood sports

Prize fighting

Fist fighting depicted in Sumerian relief (in Iraq) carvings from the 3rd millennium BC, while an ancient Egyptian relief from the 2nd millennium BC depicts both fist-fighters and spectators.[10] Both depictions show bare-fisted contests.[10]

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


A hare caught by two greyhounds.
Rat-baiting pit
Before a ram fight, Iran, 1876-1925. One of 274 Vintage Photographs. Brooklyn Museum.


See also


  1. "bloodsport" - Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary - edited by Merriam-Webster, 2003
  2. blood sport
  3. Speecking, Georg; strang (1914). "Bloodsports". Stag Hunting pp. 1–33, in Killing for Sport: Essays by Various Writers, edited by Henry S. Salt. George Bell and Sons, Ltd, London. Archived from the original on 2006-08-15. Retrieved 2006-12-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Wyatt B. "What Trout Want: A Beautiful Fiction (excerpt from a book "What Trout Want: The Educated Trout and other Fly-fishing Myths"". MidCurrent"accessdate=June 29, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Lewine, Edward (July 2005). Death and the Sun: A Matador's Season in the Heart of Spain. Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-618-26325-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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. ISBN 0-8122-3129-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Cockfighting, Puerto Rico Herald, 2005.
  8. Times Online article, August 19, 2007, retrieved August 25, 2007.
  9. Practical Fishkeeping article, May 17, 2007, retrieved August 25, 2007.[dead link]
  10. 10.0 10.1 Michael Poliakoff. "Encyclopædia Britannica entry for Boxing". Retrieved 2012-05-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. [1] 'Cage fighting becoming the new 'blood sport', April 30, 2012, retrieved June 14, 2012.

External links