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Mounted hunters demonstrated equestrian as well as toxophilite skills. The Asian aristocrat’s passion for horses, which can be traced as far back as Hittite times, if not earlier, led not only to horse races but also to the development of polo and a host of similar equestrian contests. These equestrian games may in fact be the most distinctive Asian contribution to the repertory of modern sports.

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Judo, invented in 1882 by Kanō Jigorō in an effort to combine Western and Asian traditions, attracted European adherents early in the 20th century. Rowing , one of the first sports to assume its modern form, began to attract a following after the first boat race between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and the inauguration of the Henley Regatta . “Athletics” became popular after Oxford and Cambridge held their first track-and-field meet in 1864.

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In all probability, polo evolved from a far rougher game played by the nomads of Afghanistan and Central Asia. In the form that survived into the 21st century, Afghan buzkashi is characterized by a dusty melee in which hundreds of mounted tribesmen fought over the headless carcass of a goat. The winner was the hardy rider who managed to grab the animal by the leg and drag it clear of the pack. Since buzkashi was clearly an inappropriate passion for a civilized monarch, polo filled the bill.

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Sport became such a prominent part of their culture that the Greeks created the Olympic Games, which in ancient times were held every four years in a small village in the Peloponnesus called Olympia. Other bodies advocate widening the definition of sport to include all physical activity. For instance, the Council of Europe include all forms of physical exercise, including those competed just for fun. Mad Bets A 30-minute sports betting show covering each week’s slate of NFL games.

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