Cock fights. Bull fights. Dog fights. Rodeos. And yes, even insect matches. These and other animal-focused sports—created for human entertainment and most often, financial gain—are still in existence today despite activists’ best efforts to eradicate them.
Are these ‘sports,’ some of which date back to Roman times, merely ‘cultural traditions’ or outright ‘animal cruelty’? Or an unpleasant combination of the two?
Before discussing this topic, let’s look at several types of what many consider to be ‘blood sports,’ including some that are less commonly known, and where they’re occurring in the modern world.
Types of Animal-Oriented Sports
Two roosters in a ring, doing a violent dance, viciously rip into each other’s necks. They’re cheered on by people yelling and throwing money down to bet. The match ends when the ‘umpire’ declares that one of the ‘fighters’ is dead or close to it. After it’s over, people collect their winnings.
Countries: Latin America, Mexico, the Caribbean, the Canary Islands and an island or two in the S. Pacific.
The premise here is similar to that of the cock fight. According to the Humane Society, the dogs are usually pit bull terrier-type dogs with powerful jaws, and they’re trained to fight. Other breeds are used, however, including rottweilers. They attack each other in a pit (sometimes on a street) with spectators encouraging them. They bark wildly and attempt to tear each other apart.
The fights can last up to two hours and end when one dog can no longer fight. Many die of blood loss, exhaustion, infection, shock, etc. This sport is considered a felony offense on a Federal level and in all 50 states in the US.
Countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Cuba; illegal in most developed countries, it occurs anyway.
The corrida de toros (the Spanish version) occurs in phases, each one announced via trumpet. Each stage is aimed at progressively weakening the bull to facilitate the final kill by the matador. There are picadores—men riding blind-folded horses—who stab the bull’s neck with lances–and banderillas, who run at the already-weakened bull to distract him and insert darts into its back, drawing more blood.
Eventually, the matador goes in for the final kill. First, he puts on a ‘show’ by provoking the bull to charge a few times while working the audience into a frenzy. Then, he inserts a sword into the bull’s aorta People, who have paid big bucks to witness the ‘fight’, yell Ole! at the moment of death (if it goes well) and wave white handkerchiefs. “The crowd wants to see bravery, strength, and finesse when it comes to subduing the rampaging bull,” according to the website Cuando en España.
Countries: Spain (illegal in Catalonia and has declined in popularity in recent years nationally), Portugal, Mexico and a few S. American countries.