Sunday, February 12, 2006

Hohokam Ballplayers Made The Bleachers At Yankee Stadium Seem Tame By Comparison

Hohokam Ballplayers Made The Bleachers At Yankee Stadium Seem Tame By Comparison - An article from the Tucson Weekly on ancient Hohokam sports. The Hohokam were a Native American culture that existed in Arizona from 250 AD to about 1450 AD.

They left behind a lot of evidence about their culture. The evidence shows that they were big sports fans. All the communities had at least one ball court. Beyond the religious significance of the games, the community actively watched the games for fun. Athletes were given special treatment and did not have to participate in some work projects. At least one player was buried with his shoulder and hip pads.

It is research like this that shows again and again that people remain basically the same despite time period or geography. The love of sports appears to be inherent in humanity.

From the site:

PAMPERED PLAYERS, worshipping fans and a high-stakes mentality. It sounds like life in professional sports in the 1990s. But it's actually a description of the sports culture that existed among the Hohokam people of prehistoric Arizona.

Archaeologists have located about 220 amphitheater-like structures that researchers believe were used by the Hohokam primarily as ball courts. It's impossible to know with certainty the kind of game played inside these arenas, built between 750-1200 AD. But based on evidence excavated at the sites, and documents describing a similar game played in ancient Mexico, archaeologists say it's easy to imagine a game-day climate that makes the bleachers at Yankee Stadium seem tame by comparison.

"Spanish explorers observed the game in Mexico and left behind quite a bit of information on it. Columbus even brought a rubber ball back to Spain with him," says Todd Bostwick, an archaeologist at the Pueblo Grande Ruins in Phoenix, the best preserved Hohokam ball court in Arizona. "We can assume the Arizona game was similar to the Mexican one."

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