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Apparently there was Broomball already 1000 years ago in Iceland! The Icelandic Viking Sagas from 1000 years ago mention a game called Knattleikr.

The Knattleikr ball game was very popular amongst the Vikings. It was one of the roughest games invented, and often deaths were reported from the games;

Viking writer Hord Grimkellson reports at the time of a game between Sands and Botn, that "before dusk, six of the Strand players lay dead, though none on the Botn side" Apparently Tord Blig was the worst, as he was barred from playing completely due to his "bad temper, even though he was not so strong as to be excluded for that reason"

Apparently the worst berserkers where thrown out of the game even in those days. From west-Iceland it's reported that at Lekskalvollane ("Ballgame Shelters") there were annual tournaments that lasted 14 days. Shelters were erected where people lived during the tournaments. The place still bears this name.

Today no one knows the game's exact rules but there is some information. We know that:

  • They were divided into teams
  • A hard ball was hit by a stick
  • The players could also use their hands
  • Body contact was allowed in the fight for the ball where the strongest had the best chance to win (a famous passage in the literature tells of "Torstein hit Bork very hard to the ice and let him slide across the slippery surface like a big lump"
  • Also, parents are on record complaining about "the blood stained and black beaten state of their sons when coming home from the Games"
  • It was a spectator game, with tournaments drawing huge crowds from all over Iceland
  • Intimidation was a vital ingredient, several war of words have been recorded in the old sagas
  • The game demanded so much time that it was played from morning to night
  • There was a captain on each team
  • There were penalties and a penalty box
  • The playing field was lined, usually played on a flat ice surface
  • The Vikings used tar and sand under the soles of their boots for traction.
  • Maybe it was the Icelandic Vikings that brought the game to Canada, when they built the first Viking settlement in Canada near St. Lunaire, Newfoundland at L'Anse aux Meadows 1000 years ago??

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