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". 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".

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.


The Gladiators of Rome: Blood Sport in the Ancient Empire ...

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 Stephens Salt.

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.

Current issues

Buffalo and lion endure epic hour-long fight to the death | Daily ...

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 advocates have sought to extend the term blood sport to various types of hunting. Trophy hunting and fox hunting in particular have been widely disparaged as "blood sports" by those concerned about animal welfare, animal ethics and conservation.

Recreational fishing has sometimes been described as a blood sport by those within the recreation.

Animal fighting

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., bullfighting 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 event, the bull is invariably killed and the bullfighter is always at risk of death.

Online videos

Many online video-sharing website such as YouTube do not allow videos of animal bloodsports to be shown on the site.

Human blood sports

Dogfighting - ESDAW

Prize fighting

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.

In fiction

Pictured: The horrific world of dog fighting tournaments in ...

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, Fight Club, Death Race 2000, and "The Most Dangerous Game". Blood sports are also a common setting for video games (Unreal Tournament, Street Fighter etc.), making up much of the fighting game genre.

Developed science fiction universes such as Star Wars and Doctor Who feature different blood sports.

List of blood sports

Pictured: The horrific world of dog fighting tournaments in ...


  • Badger tossing
  • Boar tossing
  • Bullfighting
  • Cock throwing
  • Fox hunting
  • Fox tossing
  • Hare tossing
  • Goose pulling
  • Human-baiting
  • Octopus wrestling
  • Wildcat tossing
  • Recreational fishing
  • Wolf hunting
  • Wolf tossing


  • Badger-baiting
  • Bear-baiting
  • Betta-fighting
  • Bull-baiting
  • Camel wrestling
  • Cockfighting
  • Coursing
  • Cricket fighting
  • Dog fighting
  • Donkey-baiting
  • Duck-baiting
  • Falconry
  • Fox hunting
  • Hare coursing
  • Hog-baiting
  • Hyena-baiting
  • Insect fighting
  • Jackal coursing
  • Lion-baiting
  • Monkey-baiting
  • Ram-fighting
  • Rat-baiting
  • Spider fighting
  • Wolf-baiting


  • Ancient Greek boxing
  • Boxing
  • Pankration
  • Cage fighting
  • Gladiatoral spectacles
  • Pasola

See also

karma | Animal Force
  • Animals in sport
  • Baiting
  • Illegal sports
  • Venatio


External links

  • Irish Council Against Blood Sports
  • YouTube footage of a captive deer being pursued by hounds and horsemen
  • World Society for the Protection of Animals
  • Cage fighting and the rise of the UFC

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