We like to think that our large, international sporting events were first introduced with modern civilisation, especially when sport has had such a long and sometimes mysterious past. The truth, however, is that sporting events can be traced back thousands of years, with the earliest tournaments culminating in The Olympics, which are still going even to this day.
The Ancient Greeks, who put much pride in athletic feats of strength, stamina and skill, first started the Olympics. Times were very different then to the modern world, where most people work in office buildings and play video and River Belle casino games.
What The Ancient Greeks Wore
When we picture Ancient Greece, we think of men and women walking around wearing long, white togas. But this image doesn’t apply when it comes to the sports they played, and many Greek cultures actually found it uncivilised to wear any clothing at all while participating. Yes, being nude while playing sports was extremely popular in the ancient games, which first started in 720 BC., which was, at the time, a simple 200m men’s sprinting event.
It would be more than two hundred years before the second Olympics was held, and was regarded as a much more important event than its predecessor. It didn’t take long, however, for the Games to be declared as a pagan event and subsequently banned, and remained so until they were revived in Cotswold, U.K. 1612.
Olympians Running Naked
Today’s athletes wear some of the best gear in the world, with almost all of it designed by scientists to provide comfort, durability, and a host of other abilities designed to keep the athlete cool, flexible, and safe from the elements.
The Ancient Greeks, on the other hand, would make of a type of loincloth known as a perizoma, which was held up around the athlete’s waist by a piece of fabric. It’s believed that the first person to run without one of these was a runner named Orsippus, who competed in a short sprint during the 15th Olympics. It quickly caught on, and the belief began circulating that competing in the nude was a much more civilised way of doing it.
The ancient Greek historian Thucydidas made his own claim that athletes from Sparta were the first Greeks to compete in the nude, which would eventually go on to become the norm. The Spartans even believed that those athletes from surrounding nations that didn’t perform naked were barbarians. They also claim that the first athlete to compete completely naked was one of their own, Akanthose – although the Spartans were known to embellish much of their folklore.
Despite the widespread practice of competing naked, which was already in place by the time the Olympics had taken off in Greece, winners of the event were known for having some sort of adornment after the game. This was often in the form of an olive wreath crown, which remained the traditional prize for many hundreds of years, and is still a major symbol in the pop culture of today.