Contrary to popular belief, team sports haven’t been around forever. The earliest one began 3,500 years ago. It was a game that involved a rubber ball, flying through a small hoop, hung upon a wall, elevated 10 feet above your head. It’s sort of like trying to fit a basketball through a hoop the exact diameter of the ball, and then the ball weighing close to 8 pounds. Since this game doesn’t sound easy enough already, if you lose, you are killed. If this interests you then read on, about the marvelous game called Tiachtli.

Many may ask why other countries didn’t play this game, or a relation, (how hard is it to make a game involving a ball and a hoop or net) of the game. This is simply because they found a way to make a ball that would bounce. It’s rubber from the rubber tree.

Now, when I first found what they were hitting back and forth, I was puzzled in how they propelled the ball. Soon I learned they used their hands, arms, legs, hips, anything but taking the ball and throwing or kicking it. This would require tons of padding to prevent the ball from breaking your bones (which it easily could). Some of the padding they used was made of stone, and others were made out of some leather or padding. Then there was the ceremonial wear. It included headdresses, feathers, and other things that were shed for the game and the minimalist wear was adorned.

The game is beginning now, the 4 on 4 teams enter the “I” shaped arena with sloped walls on the side of the central court. The men hit that ball off their hips, and tried to assist it into hitting the hoops mounted on the walls well above their head. The scores were often 1 or nothing. The losers condemned to die.

This is the basic rundown of the game. For more information, go to www.ballgame.org.


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