Cruelty in sport and entertainment

Cruelty in sport and entertainment

Medieval (c500-1500)

  • Blood sports, such as bear-baiting, bull-baiting and cockfighting, were socially accepted forms of entertainment.
  • Animal combat shows were known as animal trials and often attracted huge crowds.
  • Jousting tournaments and duelling were extreme sports often resulting in serious injuries or death.

Early Modern (1500-1750)

  • Blood sports continued to enjoy popularity among all types of socio-economic classes.
  • Public executions and punishments often served as entertainment; the gibbet was an execution device featured publically.
  • Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre hosted shows that featured graphic violent scenes as part of their storylines.

Industrial Revolution (1750-1900)

  • Blood sports started to decline in popularity due to increasing social and legal pressure.
  • The Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835 prohibited animal fighting, leading to the closure of many venues.
  • The illegal sport of prizefighting, a precursor to modern boxing, sometimes resulted in fatalities.
  • Working class people participated in brutal sports like bare-knuckle boxing and rat-baiting, often in secret.

20th Century Present Day

  • Modern day boxing and MMA have rigorous safety protocols, but can still result in serious injury or death.
  • Dog and cock fighting is illegal in much of the world, but still occurs underground.
  • Criticisms exist around the treatment of animals in the circus industry, leading to bans in some areas on the use of wild animals in circuses.
  • Controversies around the lack of safety protocols and traumatic impacts of American Football has led to changes in rules and equipment.
  • Further concerns raised about treatment and welfare of animals in horse and greyhound racing.