Visiting the old athletics graveyard

Exploring the fall of once popular, and quite violent, sports

Photo of someone holding a candelabra in dim lighting.
PHOTO: Laura Chouette / Unsplash

By: C Icart, Staff Writer

Content warning: mentions of animal abuse in the second paragraph. 

Auto polo

Picture polo with cars instead of horses. Each car had two players: one to drive and one to hit the ball. It was popular in the United States and Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. The sport, unsurprisingly, was incredibly dangerous and caused several accidents. It was so bad, that each car had its own nurse and doctor. Racers died, and people ate it up. I’m not kidding. Audiences would complain about a lack of bloodshed. It wasn’t until the Great Depression made the sport too expensive that auto polo began fading out. However, it was briefly revived as “motoball,” where cars were replaced with motorcycles and mallets were replaced by rackets. 

Considering how much faster cars are today, I’m going to have to agree with leaving this one in the sports graveyard. However, tuk-tuk polo has been taking off in Sri Lanka since 2016. Tuk-tuk refers to the vehicles participants drive. It gained popularity as a replacement for elephant polo after animal cruelty accusations, and a rampage of a “polo” elephant hospitalized two players in 2007. Wow, that’s a lot of variations of polo.

Fox tossing

During the 17th and 19th centuries in Europe, members of the Victorian aristocracy would join teams to launch an array of live animals — not just foxes — in the air with a giant sling. Whoever sent their animal up the highest would win. It was ideal to toss the animal high enough so it wouldn’t survive the fall, because when it did, it often attacked the participants. Go get your revenge! When the aristocracy died down, so too did the game. Obviously the animal cruelty  involved would prevent this sport from being revived nowadays.


Okay, baseball isn’t dead, but it may as well be. Major League Baseball (MLB) viewership has significantly declined. While 44.2 million people tuned in to watch the World Series in 1978, less than 12 million people watched the 2022 World Series. Many blame the slow pace of the game that just doesn’t keep up with the attention span of the average 57-year-old MLB fan. This is something the MLB is actively trying to solve by introducing two major time-saving changes this upcoming baseball season: a pitch timer, and a pickoff limit. The pitch timer will force pitchers to cut down on time between pitches. While a pickoff limit will allow more players to steal bases by limiting how many times a pitcher can try to catch a runner taking off to the next base. To be honest, I think this sport is boring, changes or not, and would much prefer it if the MLB started playing soccer baseball instead.