Learn About the Strange and Unusual Sport of Poodle Clipping

When we talk about sports, we talk about different types of activities that require physical or mental effort to accomplish a particular goal. Yet, there have been some weird sports in the past which just don’t make a lot of sense. One such sport is called Poodle Clipping. Although this is a routine habit for many these days, it was once “rumored” as a sport. Fun Fact? Not just a simple sport – AN OLYMPIC SPORT. 

What is Poodle Clipping?

The first Olympic games used to be quite simple and did not have as many games as well. With time, many new games were given a part in the Olympic games. Those who don’t have an idea about poodle clipping might be shocked to know how unusual it is to be called a sport. “Poodles” are a specific kind of dog which has massive hair on their body. These hair are usually thick and in great volume. 

As a result, people sometimes clip or cut these hair according to their likings. Poodles were sometimes groomed according to the lifestyle they had been living. The hair was sometimes cut from everywhere and the head was kept as it is, while other times, for a cuter look, the poodles would be given a more fluffy look by maintaining the volume of their hair in an appropriate manner. 

Although it is not practiced as a sport, several contests are held at a local or a community level. People show off their poodles with unique “hairstyles” and the poodle with the best hair wins the award. 

A poodle sitting on the grass. 

Poodle Clipping as a Sport

In the year 1900, more than a century ago, a poodle clipping trial event was held in the Olympic games of Paris. Surprisingly, 128 people had registered for this event. Despite the fact that there weren’t any kind of modern clipping tools and equipment present, there was a competition held where the participants had to clip the fur off from the most poodles in a maximum time limit of 2 hours. What’s even more surprising is the fact that there were more than 6000 spectators who were there to see this event. 

In this event, the first prize of a gold medal was won by “Avril Lafoule”, who was a 37-year old lady. In only 2 hours, she clipped 17 poodles creating a new record of that time too. Historians believe that this was one of the most chaotic Olympic Games of all time as the audience was quite energetic and excited to see this unique sport. But Wait! All this was a big prank

Poster of the Olympic Games 1900. 

What Actually Happened..

As crazy as it sounds, it is actually an utter reality that none of that happened. There was no such event where the poodles were clipped. 6000 spectators, 17 poodles, gold medals, and all the other details are just made-up ones.  However, what’s significant among everything is the number 128 (number of participants in the supposed game). 

In 2008, The Daily Telegraph news writer named Christopher Lyles was writing on the different aspects surrounding the Olympic games. He was writing a column in a very specific way. He was keeping a count on the number of days before the Olympic games began and then he used this number to highlight something related to the Olympics. For example, 131 days prior to the Olympics of 2008, Lyles wrote about the number of competitors who took part in last November’s ‘first-past-the-post. The competitors in this sport were also 131. 

While these were mere coincidences, it was actually getting a response from many people as well. Readers and fans of the Olympics were quite fascinated with how the numbers were presented in the form of an interesting fun fact. Despite the fact that Lyles clearly gave a hint in his column about this being a prank, it took a long time before people finally saw that. In his writing, Lyles mentioned that the event of Poodle Clipping in the Olympics of 1900 was held on the 1st of April 1900. It really turned out to be an April Fools Prank. Even though many could have easily guessed this but it took a while before this story went the other way. 

Initially, the story of Lyles did not receive much attention. A while after, the story of Lyles got the hype over the internet. It began circulating on the internet. Eventually, many reporters and media agents tried to play their part.  

A white poodle. 

What Made the Story Believable 

Since the story was about April 1 and also posted on April 1, it was not considered an April Fool’s prank rather it was considered a certifiable fact. This is what made the entire story quite believable and not considered a prank.  

Another important reason why the poodle clipping story of 2008 became quite believable was that there were several other odd games that were played in the Olympics in the year 1900. These games included mud fighting and grease pole climbing which were not exactly the sports many people were actively watching. However, with these sports being played, poodle clipping was something quite believable. 

However, there were other ways in which the story could have been uncovered as well, as Lyles did give a few too many hints to the readers. The readers could have gotten a great idea from the 1st April date. However, if that wasn’t enough, Lyles had given another hint in the name of the gold medal winner. His name was “Avril Lafoule”. Repeat this name at a fast speed and you will get to know it. The word “Avril Lafoule” is quite similar to the word “April Fool”.  

What made it easily guessable that this was a prank was the fact that the Olympic Games of 1900 were held between the months of May and October. This meant that any event in the month of April would have not been a part of the Olympic games. 

Nonetheless, despite being false, it stayed as one of the most important stories of the time which got major hype. 

A small poodle dog. 

Media Coverage on Poodle Clipping

Eventually, it was found out that poodle clipping was not a sport associated with the Olympics. Some people lived to dislike the decision while others had the viewpoint that poodle clipping is not even a proper sport that a huge deal is being made out of it while other actual sports are not being given a chance for Olympic games. Sports such as cricket, polo, bowling, and squash are not a part of Olympic games but poodle clipping was, rumored-to-be. 

However, the media did try its best to get poodle clipping to the Olympics. Many people have lived to favor this decision while a few others have opposed it as well. Nonetheless, the entire drama went on for a while before being uncovered by a large number of people. More people getting into this gave the story of Lyles a higher ranking as it became a popular topic of discussion. 

Right after the story started to get major hype and confusion was created among the readers as to whether this event of poodle clipping actually happened or not, The Daily Telegraph came up with another article to address the issue and shut down the hoax. On August 15, a great time after the initial news, Andy Hooper, a news writer at The Daily Telegraph wrote an article to clear the confusion explaining the hoax and the joke associated with the April Fools. 

Interestingly, the debate went on for quite a long time. Even in 2012, many media houses decided to offer the readers news of sport associated with poodle clipping. 

Closeup of a brown poodle. 

Conclusion

Poodle Clipping may be considered a sport by many but it isn’t one. The Olympic games hoax was one of the best ways in which the readers of The Daily Telegraph and many others were made a fool of. It still stays as one of the most satirical stories of such a big media house. While it may seem interesting, there are rare chances that we see this as a sport in the Olympics. There were several other top sporting moments of the 1900s as well.