“No man is an island,” as the famous saying goes, which underlines the need for people to interact with one another – after all, having relationships and being loved is a basic necessity according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory and there are wide-ranging activities we can do for bonding, including watching films, having lunch, or taking a leisurely stroll together. However, for more fun and challenging time, nothing beats good old competitive sports.
The innate feature of competitiveness in sports has paved way for some historic events and accomplishments, from nations battling out against nations to the unification of players from different places, in search for the best, the ultimate team. This hunger for being successful in competitive sports has meant that throughout history, there have been times when sporting moments have changed the game itself. Here are some unforgettable moments in sporting events that changed the course of history:
1971 United States-China Ping-Pong Match
The United States and China were minimally interacting in years leading to 1971, so it can be safely assumed that they aren’t that close. However, it was in April that year when the US ping-pong national team was in Japan to compete in the Table Tennis Championships when they surprisingly got an invite from the Chinese national team to play in Beijing.
It was one of the most remarkable events in the history of sports since China had developed a reputation for being a recluse back then and with their initiation, which was actually planned by the Chinese government, they paved way for the US team to become the first to ever enter the Asian country since 1949.
Of course, this sporting event became the conversation starter for the United States and China on a political forum, with the former country’s then president, Nixon, sending the secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, to foster ties of friendship with the powerful nation. In 1972, Nixon himself visited China, which became a momentous event in history. Then Chinese Premier Chou En-lai himself acknowledged that the sport became an effective tool in bridging the international diplomacy between the two and indeed many other countries.
Football during World War I
World War I is oftentimes regarded as one of the largest wars in the history of mankind, claiming the lives of millions of civilians and military men in a period which spanned over four years. When the war started on July 28th, it was assumed that it would only last till Christmas time but little did the people know that they were in for a long, tumultuous, and deadly battle ahead.
However, according to reports, during the war, there came a tiny ray of hope for mankind; during Christmas Eve of that year, soldiers on one side of the battlefield heard carols form the other side and the two groups exchanged messages and gifts, a Christmas miracle indeed (ceasefire). What’s more is that they played football, a moment that signified that there was still hope for humanity.
There’s something about horseracing back in the days that made kings look more powerful. Head on to the museum and you’ll observe that most kings and warriors of old are depicted or photographed riding horses, perhaps signifying that great men seem better with tall, powerful animal like horses by their side or under their command. But what most people don’t know is that this pastime actually cost many monarchs their lives.
England’s King William III died when his horse accidentally tripped over a molehill, and as a result of the fall, the man broke his collarbone before his eventual demise. Following news of his death, the king’s competitors celebrated the death and even raised a toast to the mole that became the cause of his death.
Jousting Involving King Henry II of France
Back in the days, jousting was a measure of bravery, case in point, whether a king is fit to rule a nation. Unfortunately, the matches could prove to be deadly, even the mock ones done among rulers – such was the case for King Henry II, who led France from March 31, 1574, to July 10, 1559.
In celebration of the Peace of Cateau-Cambresis after the concluded Eighth Italian War, the king joined a game held in Paris despite not being fit to take part in the contest. Apparently, he was exhausted from the scorching heat but agreed to participate in a staged game which unfortunately resulted in his untimely demise. A lance had hit him in the face during the competition causing severe facial wounds, although he was still able to utter a few words.
King Henry II was then taken to a room to receive medical care, where doctors tried removing splinters from his head. Many hoped that the king would be able to make a full recovery, but the ruler succumbed to his wounds and died 9 days later.