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The lethal pro football of its day

Jousting - a contest between two knights - was both practice for combat and the professional "sport" of its day. It was also so dangerous that it was outlawed for a short time. When it was reinstated, only blunted lances and other less-lethal weapons were permitted. Nevertheless, death was still an occupational hazard. Later, the "tilt" made jousting safer. The tilt was a long, low wall. Knights rode toward each other on horseback on either side of the wall.

"The object of the game was to display courage and skill," according to curators at the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, Mass., "not to seek the death of an opponent." Incidentally, female spectators were welcome at jousts. It was thought that they served to "cool the tempers of the men."

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(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society