Friday, November 25, 2005

Gamefowl History - Cockfighting Facts They Don't Teach You.

Gamefowl Cockfighting - A History They Don't Teach You.

An Excellent Article Full Of Facts You May Not Know About.

The rising popularity of cockfighting in the past decade has placed the Ozarks, and in particular the White River region, in the forefront of this ancient blood or pit sport. Sportsmen in our region, and others with family connections here, have served as officers and lobbyists in the national and Missouri United Gamefowl Breeders Association.

Animal rights activists in Missouri have risen to oppose cockfighting, seeking prohibitive legislation, so far unsuccessfully. The debate over this sport, which is deeply rooted in the traditions of the Ozarks, calls for an historical review. Such a review is especially helpful in considering cockfighting since, as one southern mountaineer said in regard to the sport, "Here’s history they don’t teach you."

A wise Missouri jurist wrote that "Tradition depends not at all upon thinking, nor is it disturbed by thinking. Of all the influences which affect the conduct and affections of men, none is so powerful as tradition. Resting upon use and custom, it is independent of the caprice of man and exercises over him an uncontrollable dominion.

The value of tradition lies in its unreasonableness. It contains experience rather than thinking." And therein lies much of the debate: tradition unites us, convictions divide us, a rule that Thomas Jefferson knew well when he said that "a little rebellion now and then is a good thing."The power of words in any debate is always important, but our interests include the legacy of tradition. Cockfighting has bestowed upon the English language an array of popular idioms upon which modern sports depend heavily. In boxing they include, match (in weight, to pit one against another), main event, battle royal, the ring (early pits were round instead of the squarish or rectangular ones ultimately used), weigh-in, handlers, and clean-cut (de-wattled). Even boxing gloves are a descendant of cocks’ spurs covered with muffs for sparring.

One’s spirit is often described by a cocking term: cocky, game (plucky), chicken, raised hackles, crestfallen, and yellow. Orchestras are seated in the former cockpit space in theaters, and pilots reside there in airplanes. Affluence is described as well-heeled, a reference to good-fitting steel gaffs attached to the cock’s natural spur for fighting. Workers are familiar with the pecking order on the job and supervisors who are cocksure. Nearly everyone has used cocktail, originally "cock ale," a stimulant that was and is fed to fighting cocks before a main event. The term cock of the walk, a champion bird, referred to the gamecock exercise area and is better known now for the restaurant chain.

In a world where change is the constant, the blood sports of cockfighting, bullfighting, and dogfighting have survived virtually unchanged for three thousand years; cockfighting is by far the most pervasive.

Most authorities allege that the beginnings of cockfighting were in southeast Asia, where partridge and quail competed, but as a sport, it seems so ubiquitous that no specific country can claim to be the point of origin. Some claim that the domestic chicken’s ancestor was the wild junglefowl in the dense Asian tropics. Once the cocks were domesticated, travelers and merchants diffused them and the pit sport through India, across Persia (modern Iran), and into the Middle East. Mediterranean cultures practiced the sport widely in the late first millennium B.C. while elevating the gamecock to divine status, as some Asian cultures did.

Themistocles, the Athenian general, is credited with introducing the sport into Greece, and Greeks intro-duced it into Rome, while Rome diffused it into the greater empire including Britain. Ancient lore records that Mark Antony’s gamecocks always lost to Caesar, a portent of Antony’s own future. The Romans introduced artificial spurs for combat, developed organized cockfighting, and engraved fighting cocks on silver coin of the empire.

Archaeologists, at the Italian excavations of Pompeii (destroyed in 79 A.D.), unearthed a mosaic of two cocks in combat. Pit sports, in general, took deep root in Roman society, culminating in the contests of lions against Christians.Cockfighting in the Ozarks comes more immediately from our British colonial inheritance; in fact, the sport (after boxing) was probably the first European one in the New World. By the 12th century, schoolboy cocking was an annual event in some grammar schools. Students brought their cockpennys to school, building a fund to finance the event at the end of the term --prizes were awarded to the winners. The grammar school competitions in Britain continued into the early nineteenth century.

By the sixteenth century, pit sports -- bearbaiting, bullbaiting, dogfighting, boarfighting, lionfighting, and cockfighting --were a national theater that grew to international renown into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. "Hawks, hounds and cocks were true marks of a country gentleman," said one commentator, and gambling became irrevocably tied to the sport.

Shakespeare referred to the pit sports in many of his plays -- Macbeth, King Lear, several Kings Henry, and others knew well the bear garden and cockpit. Indeed, King Henry Viii’s new cockpit at the Palace at Whitehall, constructed in 1536, remained a sporting center until 1816. English kings of the seventeenth century recognized cocking as a national sport, including the appointment of a cockmaster who supervised the breeding, rearing, and training of gamecocks for the royal pit. All classes participated in the sport, but the aristocracy set much of the tone in celebrating well-bred and well-trained gamecocks.

By the nineteenth century, their named birds became champions for spectators to place wagers upon.The degree to which participants idealized game-cocks seems little short of remarkable to modern observers. Flags and banners waved atop cockpits to advertise the sport. A chord of dissonance, however, did criticize the events.

A serious complaint by Puritan preachers began during the reign of Elizabeth 1(1558-1603) that denounced the brutality of blood sport and urged suppression of the spectacles. By the end of the seventeenth century, secular voices joined the religious ones. As cockfighting assumed widespread popularity in the eighteenth century, England’s literary masters castigated the sport as cruelty to animals. The famous British historian Thomas Macaulay (1800-1859), taking an explicit shot at the critics, claimed that the Puritans deplored such sport "not because it gave pain to the animal but because it gave pleasure to the spectators." "This articles continues" Click here to read the rest of the article "cockfighting facts they don't teach you".

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