5 Reasons why ancient Olympics sucked
written by Denyce Blackman
The Olympics are here again. Yes, it’s that time when once every four years even the most brawling Bajans in rum shops can fall silent to watch a smooth gymnastics dismount or be mesmerized by a nifty back layout during the synchronized swimming finals. It’s also that fun time when girls pretend that they really were fans of wrestling all along. It’s no secret, the world loves the Olympic Games but it wasn’t always the friendly-happy-times-Jamaica-sprinting-showcase that it is today.
Let’s look back to 776 B.C.E. when the Games began, and every aspect of the Olympics was so extreme that you might as well consider them action sports. We’re telling you, there’s no way that most modern Olympic fans would have been interested back when the Games first started. In fact some Human Rights Groups may have picketed to shut the whole thing down…seriously! First of all…
Too Much Effort to Watch it.
Those who wanted to watch the Olympics didn’t have the option of television, Twitter or Facebook; they had to travel to see it. And the journey there was ridiculous, to say the least. Back in the day potential Olympics spectators were what you call die-hard, literally.Warfare was rife in Greece around this time, and it was extremely dangerous for civilians, especially tourists, to simply travel through. I mean, city officials of the surrounding districts had to create a truce with visitors to make sure that they wouldn’t get killed as they travelled to Olympia. This didn’t always work though because the Spartans broke this truce often, meaning that several Olympic fans lost their lives en route to see the Games.
Not only that, but for those who made it, it was approximately a six day walk on undeveloped roads, or with no roads at all. This was usually if you were coming from Athens. Then, there was the danger of robbers and heat stroke and the chance of pirates if you attempted to travel by sea. Still, tens of thousands of people continued to travel to Olympia every time the games came around. Right now, it’s only nine hours roughly from the Caribbean to London, with some turbulence along the way. Consider yourselves lucky.
An NC-17 Rating because of Gratuitous Nudity
So… how big a deal would it be if Bolt stripped down to nothingness before sprinting to his gold? Or, if LeBron and Kobe did a naked chest bump before an Olympic crowd? Well, let me take you back to the eighth century, shall I? These ancient athletes weren’t “mekking sport” wid nuh “aerodynamic tracksuits”. They competed naked in all Olympics events which included foot races, wrestling and various contact sports.
One theory is that they shed their clothes to reduce their speed and to ease their movements. Then, another speculation is that, one time, this athlete’s loincloth dropped off during one race and people starting mimicking him after he won. Someone else says that the loin cloth dropped off, the athlete tripped, and then they banned all athletes from wearing the “dangerous” loincloths after that. Nude events would definitely offend most spectators at this year’s London Olympics. Especially if all these naked athletes also rubbed themselves down with glistening oil before each event. Oh, yes. They did that too. But that’s another story for another time.
With Olympic athletes today being sent packing for racist tweets, 2012 Human Rights groups and every supporter of them would have had zero-tolerance for the type of games that these ancient Greeks celebrated. Why? The creators of the Games discriminated against everything.
Firstly, they didn’t allow non-Greeks to participate. Anyone else could attend and watch, but could not enter any of the competitions. And even if you were Greek, they were still really strict and often barred people from competing based on their class and position in society. If you wanted to compete in Olympics, you had to be currently living in a Greek state and tribe, you had to speak fluent Greek, have parents who were free, and you’ve never before murdered anyone. Of course, another major issue was that they did not allow women to enter any Olympics competitions. This meant no Dominique Dawes.
Married women could not even WATCH the Olympians compete. If they did, they could be put to death. On the other hand, though, they allowed really young boys to enter the competitions, even from the age of twelve.
Spectators were Treated like Crap
The early Olympics was hardly the government-funded, internationally-sponsored, money-lavished commercial event that it is today. If you wanted to get to Olympia, you had to walk over broken-up roads. If you arrived in one piece and wanted to be accommodated anywhere with a roof, you couldn’t. Most travelers had to sleep outside on the ground. Were they allowed a bath in the morning? No. It was hundred of years before Olympic officials were able to set up the complicated water system necessary to bathe or for visitors to do number 2.
That also meant that there was no convenient source of drinking water. And of course, for the tens of thousands of visitors who trekked to Olympia, there were no water-flushed toilets. Of course, there was also overcrowding to the highest level. The thousands who came by mules brought with them flies, and the stench of fresh animal manure. The Greeks did not erect any special place for spectators to eat, leaving them to build their own fires to roast their own food wherever they could. Of course, this was all the ancient fans knew, but modern-man wouldn’t stand a chance.
Too Little Events
Twenty-six different sports are to be tested at this years’ Olympics, including taekwondo, water polo and beach volleyball. Back in the day, there were not that many. In fact, for the first seventy years of the games, there was only athletics. Not only that, but the first athletics races were really short and hardly worth the extreme trek that most people would have taken. The stade race is seen as the very first Olympics event. The athletes ran only about 200 metres. It took them fifty years to add another two foot-races, the dialus (440 yards) and the dolichus (three miles). The first event that didn’t involve running was wrestling. After wrestling, then came boxing. And other diverse events finally began to be included, like chariot-racing.
It’s likely that the trip would have been worth it if pancration was included earlier on. Instead, the Greeks waited more than a hundred years to include this gruesome event in the programme. Pancration is basically a martial-arts sport where players could kick, choke, and punch the other into submission. Basically, you could do anything except bite them, or gouge out their eyes. If you killed someone, it was considered a win. But look, in 2012, if you pinch a wrestler three times in an Olympic bout, you get disqualified. Ha.
written by Denyce Blackman