Unless stated otherwise, all information herein is taken from The World of Robert Jordan's "The Wheel of Time", Chapter 4.
The Collapse was the term given to the period of roughly one hundred years between the drilling of the Bore and the start of the War of the Shadow, in which society as known in the Age of Legends gradually fell apart. With the Dark One able to influence the world, feelings such as greed, envy, anger and resentment were inflamed and a world that knew little crime, and no war, rediscovered both. The rules of society as it was at the time were insufficient to deal with the increasing problems, and people were unable to control them.
As it continued, some people began to suspect the true cause and the first people swore themselves to the Dark One, in return for promises of power and immortality. These included Aes Sedai, who came to be known as Dreadlords. It was also during this time that various brutal sports originated. An example of these sports is Sha'je, which used left and right handed duelling daggers, Aran'gar and Osan'gar. These were tipped with poison, which meant that usually, most contestants died. In the period immediately preceding the actual war, spectator sports had accommodated this blood lust and often featured murder, rape or torture.