WOW: The most ancient sport in America is the Ancient Mesoamerican Ball Game
The Mesoamerican ball game is the oldest known sport among the Americas. Its origins are traced from the southern Mexico over 3700 years ago. For some of the pre-Columbian cultures, it was used as a ritual, social activity and political activity involving the entire society. It took place in some I-shaped buildings can be recognized in, archaeological sites called ball courts (Pool, 2007). There are approximately 1,300 ball courts known in Mesoamerica today.
Mesoamerican ball game was of interest to me because it offers an explicit example of some of the socio-economic activities that I had not yet learnt from my pother readings on the history of the Americans. Moreover, I have a passion for games and so it is interesting to see that the culture of gaming and prestige brought by such games is a trend that has been there from the distant past.
a) Where was the game played?
The game was played in particular open buildings referred to as ball courts. The buildings were usually laid out in the form of a capital I consisting of high buildings that delimitated a central court. The platforms had some sloping walls and benches where the ball was allowed to bounce. Other buildings and facilities of which a majority of them was made of perishable materials surrounded the ball courts. The masonry constructions involved walls that were low with small shrines and platforms where the audience would watch the game (Taladoire, 2001 p. 100)
b) How was the ball game played?
Evidence points to a variety of games played using a rubber band in the ancient times. The most 2widespread game was the “hip game” that was played by opposing teams with the number of players varying. The main aim of the game was to put the ball into the end zone of the opponents without the use of hands or the feet, but only the hips were allowed to touch the game. The scoring of the game used various point systems but there are no existing accounts that document how the scoring was done and also the rules of the match (Taladoire, 2001).
c) Who was involved in the games?
The ballplayers were mostly men of noble origins as the winners gained wealth and social prestige. The sponsors were mostly the leaders or those that aspired to be leaders; The ritual specialists were also involved as there were religious ceremonies before and after the game. The audience was open to all the members of the community and even some visitors from the neighboring towns. The game also attracted gamblers since there was a lot of betting involved (Pool, 2007).
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