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Scottish Sport 101

Scottish Sport 101

The Scottish love sports, and even though many people do not know it, Scotland has made quite a few important contributions to sport, e.g. the Rugby Sevens, probably the invention of the pedal driven bicycle (there are many discussions about this, and it is all very unclear), and of course the invention of golf. However, there are also quite a few traditional Scottish sports that only even make it out of Scotland when other countries also celebrate Highland games (there are some big ones in the USA).

Let's have a look at the different Scottish sports. Please be aware that many sports are practiced in Scotland (from swimming to soccer and motor sports), but it is impossible to list them all, so this is a focus on the sports that are most characteristic for Scotland.

Shinty

Shinty is a rather violent game, and you will most likely only find it played in bigger cities and in the Highlands as the popularity as decreased over the years. Shinty is seen as a predecessor of sports like field hockey. It is played with a stick and a ball, but the rules are quite different from hockey. There is a lot of tackling during a Shinty game, with the stick as well as with the body of the player. The ball is allowed to be played in the air, which is a major different to hockey.

Highland Games

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The Highland Games are a multi-sport event, and usually also include a bagpipe, drumming and dancing contest (bring some headache pills as not all competitors are actually good). The Highland games are not only about sports but also about celebrating the Scottish culture and heritage. The games are almost always held during the summer months. Here are some examples of the sports that are played during the games:

Caber Toss

The caber is an almost six meter long wooden log which weighs around 80kgs. And what do the competitors do with it? The name says it all: it gets tossed, i.e. thrown. However, it is not the distance it can be thrown but the way the caber lands that counts. The origin of the game supposedly came from when logs had to be tossed across narrow chasms, so there would be a possibility to cross over those places.

Maide Lesg

During this game, two people sit on the ground with their feet pressed against their opponent's feet. They hold a (solid) stick in their hands (the same stick) and then pull as hard as they can. Sooner or later one of the opponents will be lifted from the ground as the other has proven stronger.

Sheaf Toss

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This is all about throwing a bundle of hay (called a sheaf) as far as you can. It seems to be quite a popular game and people enjoy watching it.

Stone Put

If you have ever watched the modern shot put during the Olympic games, then just imagine the put being displaced by a stone, and you have stone put! There are different weight categories for the stones.

Scottish Hammer Throw

The hammer is not what you might have in mind when you think about a hammer. The hammer in this event consists of a heavy metal ball attached to a shaft which is about four feet long. But the idea is just the same as in the modern version of hammer throwing.

Rugby

While Scotland is not the inventor of Rugby, the invention of the Rugby Sevens is attributed to a place called Melrose. The first game of Rugby Sevens happened in the year 1883, and was invented by two butchers who thought this type of Rugby would be a good idea for a local fundraiser. Since the first game of Rugby Sevens had been played, this particular type of Rugby has become more and more popular, and today there are some very prestigious Rugby Sevens tournaments with teams from all over the world.

Golf

There are golf courses all over the world, and many of them are quite expensive if you would like to become a member. Golf is a prestigious sport, but did you know that it has its origins in Scotland? In Scotland, you will find golf courses even in the smallest villages. It is not 100% clear where the idea of ancient golf first came from (some people say it came from China, others say it has a Roman origin), but it is known and documented that the modern version of golf as we know it came from Scotland, some time during the 15th century. Funnily enough, the first mention of golf was about how it was banned. Apparently it distracted archers from focusing on perfecting their archery. So it was banned. However, it soon returned.

One of the oldest golf courses that still exists and can be visited is in Scotland and is called The Old Course at St Andrews. The golf course is not only important for the history of golf, but it also has some of the most iconic golf course features. Many golf fans see this golf course as a site they definitely would like to visit and play on one day. You could almost call it a pilgrimage.

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