Ancient Greek Sports

Sports have been around for thousands of years and it was during the Ancient Greek time that sports became a very popular event.

Olympic Games

The Olympic games began around 776 B.C. and lasted until 393 A.D.

There were many events that were held at the Ancient Greek Olympics as years went on, but there was only one game at first and it was called stadion.

This game was a 200-meter race where the runners would race all around the whole stadium.  The winner would win if they were the first ones back to the finish line.

Other events including running, boxing, wrestling, chariot racing, pentathlon, javelin, discus, long jump and more were added as the Olympics went on.

Some of the games were similar to the games that we have at the Olympics now.

Olympic discus thrower


There were many people that wanted to compete in the Olympic games and in sports because being in sports and games showed the people how strong you were.

If you wanted to be in a sport or an Olympic game, you had to be a free man and you were not allowed to be a slave.  Another thing that you had to do was be able to speak Greek.

If you couldn’t do that, you would not be allowed to play.

No one is completely sure, but there might have been other rules like age restrictions, class and other rules.

Most of the time, there were thousands of people that came to watch the games and so the Greeks would want people that played the games to be strong and athletic.

Most of the time, they would pick someone that was young to compete.

Men and Women

From what we know, the men were the ones that mostly competed in the sports and Olympic games, but there was at least one woman that was recorded for winning a chariot race.

Chariot Race


People that wanted to play in the Olympic games had to sacrifice their time to train for the games.  The training was very hard both physically and mentally.

Before they were allowed to compete in the Olympic games, they had to bow down to the statue of Zeus and vow to him that they had been training for at least 10 months.


Winning was the most important part of the Olympic games and the winner would become a hero.

Most of the time, the winner of the games would get to have a statue built of them.

Sometimes, they would get a big amount of money and when they won, they would become famous and people would give them olive branches.

Place of the Games

The Olympic games were played and watched at a colosseum which is like a large stadium.

The games would take place in Olympia because it was the place, on top of the mountain, where the 10 special gods lived.

Since Mount Olympus was where the gods lived, the games were held in Olympia so that the gods could be entertained and worshipped.


People would travel all over Greece in order to watch and participate in the Olympic games.

This was a very important time for people in Greece.


Facts About Ancient Greek Sports:

  • Competing in a sport was not easy and it was very dangerous.
  • People in sports used different tools to help them. For example, long jumpers used heavy weights to make their bodies go further.
  • In boxing, the game never ended until one person gave up or died.
  • If a boxer died while fighting, they were given the victory.
  • Religion was a big part of sports because the sports were played to honor the different gods and goddesses.
  • When cities were at war with each other, the Olympic games would be a time of truce so that everyone could come together to watch them.
  • Sometimes during sports, the people would sacrifice to the gods.

What Did You Learn?

  1. Were sports important to the Ancient Greek people?    Sports were an important part of the Ancient Greeks life.
  2. What were some sports that the Ancient Greeks played? Some of the Ancient Greeks played wrestling, boxing, running, long jump and more.
  3. Were the Olympic games important? Yes!  The Olympic games were watched by thousands of people and the winner would be considered a hero.
  4. Why were the games played? The games were played to honor the gods and goddesses and to give them entertainment.
  5. When did a boxing match end? The boxing match ended when someone quit or died.
  6. Who got the win if one of the people died during the boxing match? The person that died would be given the victory.