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.

Mouse-Trap Armor

7 Old Pictures That Prove Sports Used To Be Insane
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.

7 Old Pictures That Prove Sports Used To Be Insane
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.

7 Old Pictures That Prove Sports Used To Be Insane
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.

Motorcycle Soccer

7 Old Pictures That Prove Sports Used To Be Insane
Bob Swanson/Photobucket

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.

7 Old Pictures That Prove Sports Used To Be Insane
Bob Swanson/Photobucket

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.

7 Old Pictures That Prove Sports Used To Be Insane

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.

Fireworks Boxing

7 Old Pictures That Prove Sports Used To Be Insane

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.

Boxers Wear Fireworks in Novel Bout OUTLINED in flame, two asbestos-clad boxers staged A spectacular bout luring 9 recent pyrotechnic display in Londo

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.

7 Old Pictures That Prove Sports Used To Be Insane

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.

The Atomic Golf Ball

7 Old Pictures That Prove Sports Used To Be Insane

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.

Atomic Golf Ball I may not be world-shattering news, but in dense woods. When you're getting golfers will welcome of one the newest close to the corre

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.

7 Old Pictures That Prove Sports Used To Be Insane

"Nothing gets a lady's under-slit soggier than golf balls that click like a smoldering Hiroshima!"

7 Old Pictures That Prove Sports Used To Be Insane

Six Stages of Marring a Face

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At first, I had trouble understanding exactly what was happening in this picture. I was looking at it from left to right, so I thought it was a guy fully healing himself after a vicious beating and then saying, in the final picture on the top right, "Ha Ha! Try as you might, kind sir, but this face shall never be sullied by your mortal meat hammers!"

I thought it was pretty rad that they had Wolverine back in the 18th century. They didn't, though. If you read from right to left, the way it is supposed to be viewed, it becomes clear that it's an 18th-century infographic depicting the many looks of a person being savagely beaten into a coma. I don't know why something like this would be created. I imagine a gentlemanly bare-knuckle boxer used it as a legal wavier freeing him of responsibility after he used his fists to transmogrify his opponent's face into a butcher's dumpster.

The actual title should be "Six Steps to Corpsifying a Living Man," because there's no way the guy isn't dead by the end of it.

7 Old Pictures That Prove Sports Used To Be Insane

All he needs are Xs over his eyes.

His face is a pile of boiled purple Peruvian potatoes, and he has meat spaghetti dangling from his mouth. When the look of your head can be directly and fairly compared to the glistening, mushy look of cooked food, you're a dead person.

The School Burns as the Football Game Plays On

7 Old Pictures That Prove Sports Used To Be Insane

Americans love football. American football. Not that pussy shit where you use your feet. The one where monsters in armor attempt to eat each other in coliseums for points. We love it so much that even a burning building beside the field can't sway our attention from the game.

That's exactly what happened in November of 1965 at Northfield Mount Hermon college-preparatory boarding school in Massachusetts. Northfield played Deerfield Academy in an epic battle to determine the rights for the word "field." That day, it was Deerfield walking away with the 20-14 victory, and Northfield was granted the consolation prize of being set on fire.

Apparently, the game was never called or delayed. The game started, a fire broke out dangerously close to the stands, and the game continued until it ended as scheduled, because a little fire never hurt nobody. This picture was named the Associated Press' sports photograph of the year, mostly because it perfectly captures humanity's inclination toward not giving a fuck about dying if giving a fuck means having to sacrifice pleasurable things.

7 Old Pictures That Prove Sports Used To Be Insane

Possible origin of the expression "Not a single fuck was given."

Most of the people in the stands are standing or sitting with their bodies directed toward the midpoint between the fire and the football game. They're concerned about the fire, but shit, man -- there's a football game happening over there. They would be so relieved if the fire jumped to their eyebrows, because they could watch the fire and the game at the same time.

Every Single Picture of Manute Bol


Manute Bol played in the NBA for 10 years, and while he never became a megastar, his mere existence in the public eye allowed photographers to amass a large collection of truly terrifying pictures. Bol was 7'7" and had the body of a real-life Jack Skellington. Here he is in college looking like a spider demon from European folklore:

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The guy looked like the remains of a forest fire had magically swirled together to become the physical vessel for a malevolent god. He's what Slender Man sees hiding in the background of his family photos.

Here, Bol informs a horse that it's about to die:

7 Old Pictures That Prove Sports Used To Be Insane
Brent Smith/Getty Images News/Getty Images


Bol is the last thing you see in the woods before hikers find your body parts hanging from trees the following morning:



And finally, here's a Dementor going for a swim. Or maybe it's an artist's rendering of a spooky urban legend Klan members tell kids around the campfire:


"If you eat, you have to wait 30 minutes before you swim, or else the black serpent will gobble you up!
Chomp Chomp Chomp!"

Luis is huddling in a corner holding a 9 iron. You can find him on Twitter and Tumblr

For more from Luis, check out 8 Crazy Sports Traditions That Got Out of Control and 4 Everyday Activities that Are Way Scarier than You Expect.

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