Oldest & oddest team games?


In Ireland we have Gaelic football and hurling, in Scotland they play shinty. In Australia they play Aussie Rules.

What is the oddest and/or oldest outdoor game (hurling is over 2,000 years old) played by teams on a pitch which is specific to only one nationality as the above are and which is still played today?



oddest is a relative term. I have always considered baseball to be pretty odd as most team sports are somewhat symetrical while baseball is one to four guys against the entire team.

From this site :

Others consider trapping to be the oldest outdoors sport, but its hardly in the same catagory as the ones you mentioned.
(Fishing is another with the claim.)

But, this site claims wrestling as the oldest. Whether you consider this an outdoor game is also debatable.

As for oddest… that depends on your definition of oddness.

I see I somehow failed to read (or grasp) the entirety of your question, initially. Please ignore my previous post.

Welcome aboard the boards Eamohal. I can’t think of an older one than polo, although the Afghan version of it, buzkashi, is pretty odd - they use a sewn-up lamb’s carcass as the “ball”. I believe that’s how the original polo was played anyway. Cricket shares the asymmetry of baseball.

My guess for the oddest game is The Eton Wall Game. There’s always a big game played on St Andrew’s Day and apparently nobody has scored a goal in that fixture since 1909.

I am not familiar with a sport called hurling. Hurling to me has always been a result of drinking too much then driving the porcelain bus.

racer72 All about hurling

As to the OP how about Kabaddi a Indian sport. Ch 4 in the UK used to show it. Very strange yet fascinating sport.

It’s not only played in Ireland. It’s also a pretty robust cure for a mild hangover, but if you’ve gone as far as driving the porcelain bus it would probably kill you.

That link should be http://www.gaa.ie/html/hurling/all_about_hurl.html

Oh and howaya Eamo. Welcome.

If we’re willing to include fiction, I consider “bagdrag” to be downright odd, from a Human / western society point of view. I found it in a science fiction magazine (either IASFM or Analog) a few years ago.

Imagine a Human-like species that evolved from herbivores, and retained their herd outlook. The story was built around the concept that such a species would promote cooperation and the good of the herd, even in a competitive sport.

So here is bagdrag, as best as I remember.

The game ball is a big bag, weighing (I think) 300 lbs. It’s so big and heavy that it takes several players to carry or drag the bag, hence the game name. Bagdrag is played by three teams on a field shaped like a regular hexagon. Each team has a target goal line, alternating around the field (i.e. team A’s goal would be the top edge of the hex, team B’s goal the down-right edge, and team C’s goal the down-left edge). If the bag crosses a goal line, that team scores one point.

Now for the twist: If the bag crosses an edge between two goal lines, EACH team on those goal lines scores TWO points. (If the bag crosses the top-right edge, teams A and B each score 2 points.) And just to make things more interesting, a team currently with sole possession of the bag can share possession with another team.

Now for a game strategy problem from the story, aka “you call the play”: It’s at the end of the game, time enough for one more play. Your team has sole possession of the bag, and good field position. The scores are: Your team 8, team B 8, team C 6. Do you: Go for your own goal line? Share with B and go for the A-B line? Share with C and go for the A-C line?

In the story, the actual play was to share possession with C, and go for the A-C line. If the play worked, A would win and B & C would tie for second. If it failed, A & B would remain tied for first. Herbivores putting the herd first, remember?

As a sidebar, the oldest team “game” is possibly war and sports may have involved as a substitute for, or a training exercise for it.

More that 2500 years ago, Sun Tzu wrote a military treatise called “The Art of War” which is still studied by military leaders that sets out basic tactics and strategy. The general principles are often used in team sports today.

I haven’t been able to find the proper name for it, but IIRC the Aztecs played a game wherein teams tried to throw a ball through a hoop suspended at some distance from the ground (except the hoop was perpendicular to the ground, not parrallel with it). It looked a little like basketball in that respect. The one major difference was that the team that lost had their hearts ritualistically cut out and sacrificed. Makes the NBA look a little tame by comparison, no?

According to this site, Afghanis have been playing the sport of Buzkashi since “the time of Alexander the Genghis Khan.”

And believe me when I say that Alexander the Genghis Khan was a badass, although I don’t know how long ago he lived.

Buzkashi is a horseback sport, played with a headless goat carcass. The simple variant (Tudabarai) is sort of a team version of smear the queer. The more complex variant (Qarajai) is a goal-sport in which the goat-carrier must trace a specific path away from and back to the goal. It can be very, very violent.

Yes, plnnr, that would be tlachtli. The players weren’t allowed to use their hands either.

Calcio antico is an ancient version of football played only in Italy. It’s pretty violent too, but doesn’t predate the really old ones mentioned so far.

For unusual, there’s always curling. It’s the only sport I can think of besides Quidditch that involves brooms.