Sports in Greece

In ancient Greece, sport was considered an important element of boys’ education and positive character development. The ancient Greeks highly valued sports competition and believed that victory was a sign of divine favor
for the player.

The importance of sport for the Greeks

Sport had a religious significance for the Greeks – the largest competitions were held on the occasion of religious holidays.


The most famous were the Olympic Games,
and other Panhellenic games were also very popular.

There were at least two major games each year, and there were many local and special events. The players had an opportunity
to perform and win awards.

Prizes at the Olympics

The prizes in the Panhellenic games were symbolic (wreaths), but they were also high and specific,
in objects (e.g. in the Panathenaia, amphorae with the best olive oil, the so-called Panathenaic amphorae) and in coins,  as well in the honors
and privileges awarded by the home city – especially to the winners of the Olympic Games.

The Greeks preferred individual competition, over team sports

The following disciplines were usually held during the competition: 

running, athletics (long jump, discus throw, javelin throw) and fighting (wrestling, boxing and pankration), as well as horse and chariot racing. Chariot racing was very popular among the Greeks.


Women and girls also had the opportunity to practice certain sports. In Sparta they were subjected to intense physical exercise.


The Greeks’ passion for sport stemmed mainly from their love of the strength and beauty of the male body. Depictions of athletes were a common theme in artists’ works.

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