This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Blood sport" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (May 2024) (Learn how and when to remove this message)
A hare caught by two greyhounds

A blood sport or bloodsport 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.


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.

Current issues

Online videos

Many online video-sharing websites such as YouTube do not allow videos of animal bloodsports to be shown on the site, except for educational purposes, such as in public service announcements.[2][3]

Animal fighting


Limitations on blood sports have been enacted in much of the world. Certain blood sports remain legal under varying degrees of control in certain locations (e.g., bullfighting and cockfighting) but have declined in popularity elsewhere.[4][5] Proponents of blood sports are widely cited to believe that they are traditional within the culture.[6] Bullfighting aficionados, for example, do not regard bullfighting as a sport but as a cultural activity.[7] It is sometimes called a tragic spectacle, because in many forms of the event, the bull is invariably killed and the bullfighter is always at risk of death.

Hunting and recreational fishing

Trophy hunting and fox hunting in particular have been disparaged as blood sports by those concerned about animal welfare, animal ethics and conservation.[8]

Recreational fishing was once described as a blood sport by those within the recreation.[9]

In fiction

See also: Category:Fiction about death games

Blood sports have been a common theme in fiction. While historical fiction depicts real-life sports such as gladiatorial games and jousting, speculative fiction, especially dystopic science fiction, suggests variants of blood sports in a contemporary or future society. Some popular works themed on blood sports are Battle Royale, The Hunger Games, The Running Man, The Long Walk, Fight Club, Death Race 2000, Amores Perros, Squid Game, Bloodsport, and The Most Dangerous Game. Blood sports are also a common setting for video games (Apex Legends, Danganronpa, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat etc.), making up much of the fighting game genre.

List of blood sports

Human – Human

Human – Non-human Animal

Non-human Animal – Non-human Animal

See also: Baiting (blood sport) and Coursing

See also


  1. ^ "Blood sport". Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11 ed.). Merriam-Webster, Inc. 2003. p. 134. ISBN 978-0-87779-807-1. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  2. ^ Brooke, Simon (19 August 2007). "Animal cruelty films on YouTube". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 19 May 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  3. ^ Clarke, Matt (17 May 2007). "Uproar at fish cruelty on YouTube". Practical Fishkeeping. Archived from the original on 17 September 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  4. ^ Lewine, Edward (July 2005). Death and the Sun: A Matador's Season in the Heart of Spain. Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 231. ISBN 978-0-618-26325-7. Archived from the original on 2 May 2019. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  5. ^ Mitchell, Timothy (July 1991). Blood Sport: a social history of Spanish bullfighting. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 244. ISBN 978-0-8122-3129-8.
  6. ^ Stratton, Jim (18 January 2005). "Cockfighting Persists as Underground Sport". Puerto Rico Herald. Archived from the original on 6 October 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  7. ^ "Bullfighting in Spain". October 31, 2018. Archived from the original on August 11, 2019. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  8. ^ Greenwood, George (2015) [1915]. "The Cruelty of Sport". In Salt, Henry S. (ed.). Killing for Sport. George Bell & Sons. pp. 1–33. Archived from the original on 13 October 2015. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  9. ^ Wyatt, Bob (2013). What Trout Want: The Educated Trout and Other Myths. Stackpole Books. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-8117-1179-1. Archived from the original on 2 May 2019. Retrieved 20 May 2017.

Further reading