Two American made program’s have recently caused me to ask the question is Jousting the next Olympic sport or is it just a fad?
Jousting is being whispered to be the next Olympic sport. It’s a long road from English Heritage events but people are talking about it seriously.
The American tradition of Renaissance Fair’s allowed the sport to re-emerge from obscurity and in 2012 Full Metal Jousting appeared on the History Channel, bringing modern competitive jousting its first international screening.
But does this sport have what it takes to come back to the fore amongst other equestrian sports. In those terms it would seem so, for after all it remained a popular activity all the way from about 1100 to the 16th Century.
The sport is still as violent as ever though. Although events in Britain, where the joust is an officially recognised sport, are relatively tame geared towards crowd pleasing than doing damage, there was one fatality in 2011 and fractures are as common as they are in rugby.
American professional jousting emphasises full contact and violence in the old tradition and injuries are rife, with the use of solid heavy lances made of hemlock in the case of National Geographic’s earlier show, aired in 2011, “Knights of Mayhem” which makes use of traditional armour unlike Full Metal’s modern “Iron Man” take on body protection.
Cutting edge outfits and reality drama aside I am not convinced that Full Contact Jousting will ever become a professional, popular sport until the risk factor is minimised. Polo is the closest thing to jousting today, it is fast, it is dangerous but it is also non contact and injury not as guaranteed, if you get injured in Polo you have probably broken the rules.
Jousting is the “polo” opposite where the infliction of pain is a necessary evil, but does it have to be? I don’t think so.
The Sport of Fencing is arguably much older than Jousting and in the 17th century the violent aspect of training to kill a man in a duel was removed and by 1900 formal rules had appeared.
Unless the practice of War aspect is eliminated from Jousting I don’t think it can progress much further, professional competitor Shane Adams has said what is missing from the sport is money, I would say that what is missing is safety, money will come when something big changes, for there are no more safeguards now than there was in 1300. Until that happens it will essentially remain an extreme sport.
How to resolve this? I think that jousting would make a great popular sport and by following the example of sword fencing I think it can attain this status.
By making the joust electric you instantly stop trying to hurt the opponent and start trying to score on him, this would further be improved by making the lances out of some sort of either easily breakable material or an incredibly bendy one, so as to lessen the impact. Perhaps there will always be a place for historic jousting but to make it a popular sport things have to change, because things have moved on and though we are sadly bombarded constantly by gratuitous graphic violence in the movies, the need to watch it live has yet to reappear. Traditionally points were awarded according to where you struck your opponent, and so it would be so again, so and so point awarded for shoulders, chest, waist and so on. By allowing the practice of war to be removed you are left with a modern (possibly Olympic) sport that can be enjoyed with as much adrenaline as any equestrian event but in as much safety as well.
These be my thoughts thanks for reading them, I suggest you stop now or who knows what will happen.