Using the Highland Games as an audition, the king could select the finest athletes for his personal guards and entourage. The games were also a way for the clans to demonstrate their relative strength to one another without actually having to start a war. Some of the implements used in the games were created as alternatives to traditional weapons when England forbid any Scotsman from bearing arms.
Although other activities were always a part of the festivities, many today still consider Highland Athletics to be what the games are all about. In short, the athletics are the Games, and all the other activities are considered the entertainment. Regardless, it remains true today that the athletic competitions are at least an integral part of the events and one in particular, the caber toss, has come to symbolize the Highland Games.