Blood sport

Terracotta plaque (1st century) depicting a venatio, or human-animal blood sport

A blood sport is a category of sport or entertainment that involves bloodshed.[1] Common examples of the former include combat sports such as cockfighting and dog fighting and some forms of hunting and fishing. Activities characterized as blood sports, but involving only human participants, include the Ancient Roman gladiatorial games.

Etymology

A hare caught by two greyhounds.

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 for fighting. In the Victorian era, social reformers began a vocal opposition to such activities, claiming grounds of ethics, morality and animal welfare.