|This article uses citations that link to broken or outdated sources. (May 2012)|
Bloodsport or blood sport 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" which may be further exampled by human-baiting as a blood sport involving the baiting of humans or human-animal blood sport exampled by the ancient Roman venatio. 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", thus excluding sports that involve only humans.
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 S. Salt (1851–1939).
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.
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 activists have sought to extend the term blood sport, especially as a pejorative, to various types of game hunting. Trophy hunting and fox hunting in particular have been widely disparaged as "blood sports" by animal rights activists.
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., bull fighting and cockfighting) but have declined in popularity elsewhere. Proponents of blood sports are widely cited to believe that they are traditional within the culture. Bullfighting aficionados, for example, do not regard bullfighting as a sport but as a cultural activity. It is sometimes called a tragic spectacle, because in many forms of the sport the bull is invariably killed, and the bullfighter is always at risk of death. Both Barnaby Conrad's La Fiesta Brava and Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon offer opinion on this matter.
Human blood sports
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. Both depictions show bare-fisted contests.
Blood sports 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 and Fight Club. Blood sports are also a common setting for video games, making up much of the fighting game genre (Unreal Tournament, Street Fighter etc.)
List of blood sports
Organizations opposed to bloodsports
- British Medical Association (UK)
- Hunt Saboteurs Association (UK)
- Irish Council Against Blood Sports (Ireland)
- League Against Cruel Sports (UK)
- World Society for the Protection of Animals (Global)
- Humane Society of the United States
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
- bloodsport - Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary - edited by Merriam-Webster, 2003 "
- blood sport
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