The top 7 questions about jousting in Maryland
Did you know jousting is the state sport of Maryland? It’s one of the weirdest state sports, but fortunately we’re here to answer your questions about it.
Q: Jousting is Maryland’s state sport?
Q: How did it happen?
It was introduced in the State Legislature like any other bill, and then it was approved by Governor J. Millard Tawes.
More completely, it grew out of Marylanders’ interest in jousting. The Maryland Jousting Tournament Association was established in 1950 “to make every effort to keep alive the quaint colorful ancient traditions of the Age of Chivalry which are associated with the sport.”
How it works
Q: So do they actually kill each other?
Modern jousting involves trying to lance three suspended rings. According to MJTA rules, riders get three attempts to do it. The rings are 6’9″ above the ground and part of an 80 yard track.
Q: No killing. But how do they make sure riders don’t just go really slow?
There’s a time limit for advanced jousters. Usually, you have to complete the course in nine seconds or less.
Q: How big are the rings?
They’re small. At the pro class, they’re 1/2″ and 1/4″.
Q: So is it a Renaissance Fair thing or a real sport?
The MJTA definitely promotes chivalry, the history of jousting, and associations with medieval times. As the MJTA describes:
On Jousting Day the Tournament Field is gaily bedecked with flags and bunting. Prior to the contest there is a colorful Parade of Knights and Maids in medieval costumes. The guest of honor, usually someone of prominence, addresses the assembled knights and maids prior to the beginning of the Jousting. This is called the Charge to the Knights. The Grand Marshall reads aloud the rules and with a trumpet fanfair from the band, the Joust begins.
All the pagentry [sic] doesn’t end with the last hoofbeat. Following the riding, the winning knight chooses as his Queen of Love and Beauty, the Lady of his choice and crowns her with a floral wreath in a very beatiful, [sic] traditional coronation ceremony on the Jousting Field, thereby declaring his love for her and sealing it with a kiss. If a maid should win, she chooses her “Knight” for the crowning.
That said, Renaissance costumes aren’t required, and many serious competitors wear riding clothes. Jousting is a real sport with multiple tournaments and stats. This article provides a good look at serious jousting.
Unlike in medieval times, women also compete.
Q: How can I see jousting?
Check the MJTA’s schedule.