Back before professional sports were a multi-billion-dollar industry that cared about things like public image and reputation, the world of sports was just one big game of leapfrog to see who could scare the shit out of the most people. Players would grab random items from their sheds, they'd walk out into fields, and they'd start gyrating hoping a sport would happen, but were flummoxed when all they could do was summon fear. The old world of terrifying attempts at sport was captured in photo so people of the future could nervously laugh so hard our chuckles would reverberate backward through time, filling the people in the pictures with an unidentified sense of self-consciousness.
#7. Mouse-Trap Armor
Library of Congress
Someone in the early days of the 20th century looked at golf and thought, "You know, this sport needs more post-apocalyptic fetish cages." That dream was realized with mouse-trap armor, a wearable cage that protected golf-course employees as they collected balls around the course. The actual name of the guy wearing the armor was Mozart Johnson, a name he hastily made up while being questioned by police in their search for a man wielding a castration stick and wearing a fence.
Library of Congress
"The safe word is 'Don't stop.'"
See, back before golf people invented a car that can pick up golf balls automatically, golf courses sent the Depression-era poor out on suicide missions to retrieve their balls. They ran out there after having comically run through a barn and out the other side clad in chicken coups, and they battled through a hail of golf balls just to pick up other golf balls, daring anyone taking a shot to fire upon a walking steel cage match.
Evan Agostini/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
This is the result of a Getty Image search for the words "cage match."
I guess they think it's a dating site exclusively for Nic Cage.
The wire mesh stops at the shoulders and just below the testicles, which means someone looked at the human anatomy and deemed the arms and legs worthy of sacrifice in the name of golf. I mean, it's not like if you got hit in the ankle with a 200 mph golf ball your bones would warp into an alternate dimension of immeasurable and infinite pain, right? It'll just bounce off and you'll be fine.
#6. Motorcycle Soccer
Some people want to play soccer but unfortunately can't due to the fusion of their asses to motorcycle seats. It's a terrible affliction, but luckily many years ago someone devised a way to play soccer while riding a motorcycle. It's called motorcycle soccer, because the person in charge of naming things had been killed the previous day playing motorcycle soccer.
Motorcycle soccer is kind of like polo but with motorcycles instead of horses, presumably because it's quite rude to shove an engine up a horse's ass and try to kick-start its dick. The game is simple: get on a motorcycle and attempt to play soccer while actually accomplishing the goals of kicking shins and smashing feet with large motorized wheels. The whole thing is really just an excuse for men to drive motorcycles in muddy circles until everyone's fully convinced it was a bad idea to begin with.
The game is still played today, but without the puffy pants, newsboy caps, and post-stock-market-crash death wishes, it's just not the same.
#5. Fireworks Boxing
For reasons lost to time, two guys in 1930s London beat the shit out of each other in front of a crowd while wearing suits made of asbestos and fireworks. Sounds crazy, but keep in mind that this is from a time when there was no Netflix or Internet, and entertainment options were limited to viewing dazzlingly savage beatings that caused cancer.
The boxers were clad in robes, giving them the look of monks who were duped into this match by a fast-talking huckster with the promise of a fast-track to enlightenment by way of explosions and a pummeling. On top of the robes were crude facsimiles of people made of wood and fireworks. This ensured that the dangerous work of the two boxers meant absolutely nothing because all people would see is the outline of two handsome men made of light trying to extinguish each other's souls with their hands.
This guy's here to make sure the boxers die safely.
I couldn't find a context or reason for this novelty match. Though, the safe bet would be that this was a promotional stunt for the grand opening of a London hospital's revamped burn unit and cancer treatmentorium. These two sporting fellows were the night's entertainment/inaugural patients.
Whatever the reason for this stunt was, I can confidently guess one thing about this picture: there are at least two people in human history who have "firework boxing" listed as the cause of death on their death certificates.
#4. The Atomic Golf Ball
This is an ad is for the Atomic Golf Ball, a golf ball containing traces of radiation. It's from the 1950s, a time when Americans were terrified of A-bombs turning everyone they loved into shadows splattered against walls in the classic "no No NOOOO DON'T HIT ME!" anti-nuke defensive stance. The Atomic Golf Ball is the only product in golf history that ever had the guts to use the stuff that made Godzilla to help you find a ball.
The idea was that, if you were having trouble locating your ball, you'd whip out your trusty Geiger counter (which everyone in 1950s America was given as a part of their government-issued nuclear winter survival kit, including spiked shoulder pads and a flaying knife for scalping marauders) and follow the clicking sound until you found your ball. This is like using a supervillain's death ray to make a cat run in circles. It's the only golf ball banned by the Geneva Conventions.
Ultimately, Atomic Golf Balls were probably a victim of bad timing. The Cold War was just starting up, the dropping of two nukes was fresh in everyone's mind, and now here's this pencil-necked dweeb in tweed trying to sell me a golf ball made of the same stuff we're all scared shitless of. That's like if today I tried to sell footballs made of 9/11s and baseballs that have just a hint of mass shootings.
"Nothing gets a lady's under-slit soggier than golf balls that click like a smoldering Hiroshima!"