Jousting: Maryland’s State Sport

Jousting has been Maryland’s official state sport since 1962 (and was the first state ever to adopt an official sport), but Marylanders were passionate for the sport for hundreds of years before that designation.

According to the Maryland Manual On-Line, jousting has taken place in our great state since the colonial times, but interest in the sport ramped up after the conclusion of the Civil War.

Today, Maryland is host to “ring” tournaments, according to the website, where riders attempt to “spear” rings with a lance as their horse bounds at a full gallop, requiring skill, determination and accuracy.

According to the Maryland Jousting Tournament Association’s website, ring jousting is “a test of skill and horsemanship where riders pass through a series of arches, attempting to spear three dangling rings and present them to the judges. There are three regulation rides for three rings, allowing a knight or maid to capture nine rings for a perfect score.”

At least two jousting tournaments were hosted in Braddock Heights (Frederick County) in the early 1910s, bringing knights from surrounding counties to participate. The atmosphere was spirited during one day of the two day tournament there in 1913. “Each time a knight secured three rings the band struck up a popular air and a general feeling of good cheer and of general pleasures enlightened the proceedings,” according to an article in The News.

“Mr. Sterling Galt, of Emmitsburg, delivered the charge to the knights saying that today chivalry is not dead and there is a knighthood which all can practice in daily affairs,” according to the same article. “He said in part: ‘Sir Knights You are met here today to perpetuate a custom that had its rise in a century far remote—but a custom that has a meaning just as pregnant in these latter days as it had when Troubadors sang of their constancy, when chivalry coursed through the veins of valiant men and Knighthood was in flower.”

Marylanders today can still experience the thrill of jousting at one of the many jousting events and tournaments taking place around the state.

Sources: Maryland Jousting Tournament Association; Maryland Manual On-Line; The News, August 21, 1913

Photo: Though it’s not ring tournament style, jousting can be found in the most unexpected places, like an Old Pro Golf course in Ocean City.  


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