People Have Liked Sports for a Long Time…

Via the BBC:  Mexico uncovers ancient pelota courts at Tajin site

Archaeologists in Mexico say they have uncovered three ancient playing fields at a pre-Hispanic site in the eastern state of Veracruz.

They found the courts, dating back some 1,000 years, at the Tajin World Heritage site by using laser scanners.

They believe the fields would have been used to play pelota, a game in which players used their hips to propel a rubber ball through stone hoops.

[…]

The discovery of the three playing fields brings the number of pelota courts uncovered in Tajin to 20. Tajin is therefore also known as the "city of pelota".

FILED UNDER: Latin America, Quick Takes, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Always interesting to see how sports played a role in Pre-Columbian societies. Ball courts are all over Mexico, from many different cultures and many different time frames. Lesser known are the Hohokam ball courts in Arizona. The Mississippians of Cahokia had chunkey. And that’s before we even get to LaCrosse.

    If I were a younger man with an academic career, I’d write a book on sports in the Americas. The Super Bowl wouldn’t show up until the last chapter.

  2. Chris Berez says:

    a game in which players used their hips to propel a rubber ball through stone hoops.

    Okay, I even just looked this up on Wikipedia and I still can’t envision how this game was carried out functionally. How do you move a ball using only your hips? I guess the ball, being rubber, had a degree of bounce to it. But still, yikes!

  3. @Chris Berez: I had the same reaction.

  4. Andre Kenji says:

    @James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb):

    Not only that, but there was also Wrestling in the American Continent.

    http://xavantes.com.sapo.pt/xavantes.jpg

  5. al-Ameda says:

    I wonder if they ever got around to gambling to heighten interest in sports?

  6. @Chris Berez:

    “I guess the ball, being rubber, had a degree of bounce to it. But still, yikes! “

    From the wikipedia entry on the Mesoamerican Ballgame:

    The ball was made of solid rubber and weighed as much as 4 kg (9 lbs), and sizes differed greatly over time or according to the version played.

    Yikes is right!

    Protective gear required.

    @Andre Kenji: Of course, I would have to include a chapter or two (or three!) on Sudamerican sports, too.

    @al-Ameda:

    I wonder if they ever got around to gambling

    I don’t recall reading anything about gambling when it comes to the Mesoamerican ballgame, but I do know that the Mississippians gambled profusely on chunkey. It was part of the appeal.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    I have Aztecs in my March Madness bracket.

  8. Stonetools says:

    It’s likelly that the ability to play and enjoy games is hard wired into us for some evolutionary purpose. Gorillas, chimps, even dogs like playing games.
    My guess is that they will eventually find out that the even early man played games- and most likely bet on them too !