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19 Discontinued Olympic Events I Can't Believe Actually Used To Exist

In the tug of war with the Olympics, tug of war lost.

1. Croquet

Croquet mallet and balls
Chriscrafter / Getty Images

That game your grandparents played? You betcha!

In the 1900 Olympics, the backyard game was played over three different events.

2. Polo

Polo player hitting a ball while on a horse
Freezingrain / Getty Images

No, not the water game Marco Polo, but hey, maybe that'll be the next big thing.

The "prestige" sport, which basically involves hitting a ball with a mallet while on horseback, sizzled in the early 1900s, appearing just five times (in 1900, 1908, 1920, 1924, and 1936).

3. Rackets

Two men playing squash
Andresr / Getty Images

OK, so the photo above does not do it justice, but it was basically an old-school version of the game squash. Two opponents hit a ball against the wall with their rackets and outplay each other.

The game made a brief appearance in 1908 but vanished.

4. Lacrosse

One lacrosse player chasing another
Cdh_design / Getty Images

The front half of the 1900s featured lacrosse, a sport shockingly no longer a part of the Games. It is still pretty popular in the States, and unsurprisingly, Canada currently holds the most gold.

I'd love to see this make a comeback for a USA vs. Canada matchup!

5. Motor Boating

Man racing on a motor-boat
Lowell Georgia / Getty Images

That's right.

Water sports were a big showcase in the 1908 Games, but unfortunately motor boating wasn't a thrilling enough competition for the masses.

6. Tug of War

Two teams playing tug of war
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From 1900–20, nations would stand across from one another and pull a rope to prove who was stronger.

So basically it was field day for adults.

7. Cricket

Cricket player swinging
Peepo / Getty Images

While globally a pretty popular sport, it is surprisingly absent from the Games these days.

It made a brief appearance in 1900, and has since gained popularity in countries like India and Pakistan.

8. Basque Pelota

Three men playing Pelota
Donald Miralle / Getty Images

It's very similar to jai alai, but with an extra wall.

Demonstrations for this game have been held on multiple occasions, the latest being the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona. 

9. Roque

Two men playing on Roque platform
General Photographic Agency / Getty Images

Let's call it "croquet on concrete." (And if you want more oversimplified Olympic games, check out this post.)

It had a one-shot appearance at the 1904 Games.

10. Jeu de Paume

Jeu de Paume
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Another one-shot in 1908.

Imagine indoor tennis but without rackets. It is a discontinued sport in general, not just at the Games. Long live tennis!

11. Cannon Shooting

Old cannon
Anna Fedoseeva / Getty Images

Man, they got a little too wild in 1900. Cannon shooting had a total of 17 different events.

I hope two of them were called "trick shots" and "dodge cannon."

12. Ballooning

Hot-air balloons over the mountain range
Francesco Riccardo Iacomino / Getty Images

I was hoping it entailed running with a balloon on a string, but hey, this is pretty neat too.

Piloting gas balloons at the 1900 Games, the winning team travelled about 768 miles in almost 36 hours!

13. American Football

Football players in leather helmets
H. Armstrong Roberts / Getty Images

Played in 1932 only as a demonstration sport, American football didn't become a staple for the rest of the world.

However, it did give me something to look forward to every Sunday in the fall.

14. Art Competitions

Woman painting a mural on a wall
Fotografia Inc. / Getty Images

Not gonna lie, I would love for this to make a comeback. When it was a thing in the early 1900s, there were five categories: architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture.

They lasted from 1912 to 1948.

15. Kite Flying

Woman flying a kite
Lori Andrews / Getty Images

Like many events at the 1900 Summer Olympics, kite flying was never determined to be an official sport. I imagine style points and height mattered.

16. Pigeon Racing

Pigeons flying
Kieron Trufitt / Getty Images

The 1900 Games featured pigeon racing, although the International Olympic Committee has never said whether it was an official event. But it's still real to me, damn it!

17. Gliding

Man gliding during the sunset
Pavliha / Getty Images

The showcase of aerial excellence was set for the 1940 Summer Olympics, but never saw the light of day due to World War II.

18. Firefighting

Firefighters hosing down a fire
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Firefighting events were held for both professional and volunteer firefighters.

While Olympic firefighting lasted only one Olympics, there is still a World Firefighters Games to this day.

19. Korfball

Korfball players shooting ball into basket
Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images

It is played by two teams, with four female players and four male players on each team. The goal is to throw a ball into a basket on a pole.

It existed as an Olympic event in 1920 and 1928.

Which sports would you like to see make a comeback? Comment below!