Sie wurden verprügelt.

In what contexts is it possible to use this word? Does this mean only that a person got physically beaten up? Or can you use it in sports, to mean that a team lost really badly? Or can you use it more broadly like, say, in a political election?


The other contexts you mention are imaginable but uncommon. In a political context you’d say ‘er/sie hat/haben viel einstecken müssen/Prügel bekommen für…’, in sports that wouldn’t be common as well.


Would verprügelt possibly occur in historical accounts, where corporal punishment was more common?

No, that would also be unusual.
Although the term for this form of corporal punishment is “Prügelstrafe”, "verprügeln is more typical for e.g a one-sided barroom brawl.