More Messo Ball for Slayr

  • Some more… B – Ball game: the ball game was invented about 3,000 years ago by the Olmec civilization. More than 600 ball courts have been unearthed in Mexico alone, and it is believed that countless more have yet to be discovered. The majority of courts have a similar architecture of two parallel walls along the sides of the field. By 800 A.D., stone circles or hoops had been added, attached to the side walls at the center of the court. The ball was not allowed to touch the ground; it was bounced off the walls of the court and off the players themselves. Points were scored by directing the ball through a stone circle hoop much like modern-day basketball. In ancient times, war prisoners were often forced to play, and the winners were beheaded. There are two regions in Mexico where the games are still played today – in Sinaloa the game Ulama is played, closely related to the Aztec variation of the Olmec ball game, as well as in the valley of Oaxaca.

  • @drgnslayr

    It is still played in Sinaloa. It is called ulama. Not sure if rings still part of game.

    Don’t go to state of Sinaloa to find the game without a seriously trusted local escort. Fishing acquaitance says still mucho cartel-danger in traveling there for gringos.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Wow! Thanks for the link!

    I’m an aging man missing the action. There may be a “Deer Hunter” scenario in this for me.

  • @drgnslayr

    Great idea for a script. Write it!

    What I read indicates that the balls used were round. They were made from rubber, or rubber like sap, tapped from certain indigenous trees and cooked and pored into a spheroidal mold. The mold was apparently cut open, suggesting it might have been a woven mold and the round rubber ball resulted. I cannot tell if the balls were solid rubber or had a hollow interior achieved by some process. I would guess solid. The players wore only loin cloths with leather belt/harnesses around the tops of their thighs that held something comparable to hip bone pads in American football pants securely against their hips. Players kicked the ball at teammates and teammates used the hip bone pads to ricochette the ball to another teammate and for protection in impacts against the stone side walls of courts. I have found differing descriptions of all of this, but most agree that the hands were not used to control the ball. The ball was kicked, or hipped toward either woven baskets at ground level, in early neighborhood ball :-), or up to the high vertical stone rings in the Messo NBA courts. 🙂

    Like many games, Messo-Ball apparently started as a grass roots game that grew more and more popular. Over time, as their culture developed more and more sophisticated religion-politico-military-economic organization, “the ball game,” as its various names translated, grew more elaborate courts adding high walls instead of just scratched boundary lines, and woven baskets on the ground, and, then rings on the high walls. As this occurred, the games were instituted into festivals. No one I read so far claims to be sure when the ritual sacrifices became attached to “the ball game.” But my feeble reasoning suggests that the game was played extensively by ordinary folks and in small time festivals without any sacrifices at all. Why sacrifice one of your pals, or grandpa, when you were likely to play every day, or few days for recreation, right? And that as rituals became increasingly staged by their councils/governments in their various seats of power ritual sacrifice, already a part of certain of their religious and war celebration rituals, became attached to “the ball game.” They apparently believed that defeated armies did not deserve to be slaughtered on the battle fields, wholesale, but rather should be brought back to the seats of government power and kept as prisoners/hostages for some time. Such victory needed savoring maybe? It grew to be considered just to divide the prisoners in teams and let the winners live and behead the losers, as a kind of final justice of warfare, while letting the winning prisoners live perhaps out of respect for the warrior tradition. As best I can tell the winning prisoners were probably turned into slaves of a sort, or perhaps the greatest were honored with freedom, or swapped for hostages held by the defeated enemy. Hard to say from what little I have read. Note that this is not substantially different from what the Roman’s did somewhat earlier, or at least for not as long. They marched prisoners of war back to Rome, put them in gladiatorial combat and combat with the fiercest animals they collected from afar during the wars, and those that survived were sometimes spared as slaves, or traded for hostages. The takeaway however is that by the time of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico by the Habsburg financed Castilian Spanish Crown that Spaniards believed in slaughtering as many on the battlefield as possible; this the Aztecs still found quite barbaric and disrespectful of fellow warriors, as the ancient Romans likely would have too. They enemy apparently deserved something greater than just being slaughtered anonymously on a battlefield. He deserved a chance to go out in celebratory style. So: the ritual sacrifices related to “The Ball Game,” though ghastly, were not totally like the weirdo religious sacrifices of humans and animals on altars that have plagued humanity for as long as human beings were capable of superstitions and magical beliefs. These Aztec ritual sacrifices were rather more like the spectacle of competition sacrifices in the Roman Coliseum. Yes, they were meant to pay tribute to the god for letting them win the war. But they were also meant to acknowledge the greatness of warriors; that warriors were not meant to die anonymous deaths slain like livestock. There was supposed to be some meaning in their defeat and death. Its hard for me to appreciate, as my morality, logic and common sense rebel at the idea of the absurdity of giving meaning to anything through unecessary killing of prisoners, but I am a person of my time when soldiers and civilians are slaughtered by the millions at the drop of a hat, simply for control of a geostrategic pinch point, or a vital natural resource. War has largely in my lifetime been only nominally about anything other than control of trade route pinch points, natural resources needed to back reserve currencies, denying indigenous assemblage of Euraasian centerpoints, and controlling addictive substances used to destabilize regions. The idea of ritualized sacrifices for such things seems not only vicious, unnecessary cruelty, but absurd and uncathartically tragic.

    Oh, well, enough already. Back to the joys of basketball played by young men for sport and education and maybe a shot at some big bucks. America…what a great country despite its problems.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    “There was supposed to be some meaning in their defeat and death.”

    Many today believe that games like our modern basketball represent a futile attempt at “real sport”… a mere imitation ceremony played over and over again.

    The definition of “real sport” has been given to me many times by friends who are into auto racing.

    “It’s not a real sport unless you have a real chance at dying!”

    That took some time to soak in… but when it did, I have come to realize some truth in that statement.

    One such friend, when he refers to basketball calls it “tiddlywinks.”

  • @drgnslayr

    I too have had this argument made to me.

    If its logic were true, then Russian Roulette Deer Hunter style would be the greatest game.


    Don’t give up your basketball for anything.

    Its okay to give up on SOME of those that control the game, and some that coach and play it.

    But not the game, not the part you know is true.

    It IS the greatest game ever invented.

    For me this is self-evident.

    But for those doubting, I sometimes proffer this: the memory of the game and a woman kept my father going through Bougainville, Guam and Iwo Jima. The Marine Corp merely gave him the tools and the Navy a ride.

    The game is big medicine.

    And you played it for a time.

    You are thus one of its apostles, whether you wish to be or not.

    Your only choice presently is whether to be seduced by those that would elevate sports with a death wish above the greatest game ever invented.

    I have no doubt you will make the correct choice, after some soul searching.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    My first years of basketball, as a kid, happened on my own driveway goal. All the neighbor kids would come over because I had the perfect driveway/goal setup. We’d also play tackle football in the front yard.

    Basketball turned into something else for us… “Bask-Foot!” We played it like 21, but you could tackle. We were playing on concrete.

    This was my early development in basketball.

    Playground ball was later, and by then, I considered it to be soft.

    Like everything else in life, education always comes from your point of reference. My point of reference, even today, is “Bask-Foot!”

    I never raced cars on a track. I raced on the streets as a teen, back in the muscle car era. There was risk in that. I lost a few close friends in HS who were racing on the streets. Once again, my loss of friends is my point of reference around racing.

    I put football in that same league as motor sports. Guys have died playing that game, and a whole lot of guys have suffered paralysis and other extremely debilitating injuries. Boxing and MMA should be in that group, too.

    I can’t separate the “death factor” from games.

    In these “real sports” you aren’t allowed to do what Kansas did against Temple. You can’t come so unprepared to play. The risk of serious injury (or worse) is all the motivation you need to come prepared. That doesn’t mean you avoid getting whipped in the game, but you at least better have brought some solid motivation and focus with you.

    The Kansas / Temple game did more than expose Kansas… it exposes the game as one that is just a game, not a sport.

    Of course, there have been players who came this unprepared for what I term “real sports.” They took a serious risk in doing so. That same risk is considerably less in basketball.

    None of this takes away for my love of basketball. It is a game! And the passion can exist for any game, even tiddlywinks!

  • Interesting. Is hunting a sport? Most people who hunt think that it is. There is the chance of dying but that is assumed primarily by the huntee as opposed to the hunter. It isn’t a game, therefore what?

  • @sfbahawk

    Every physical activity is sport to me in which you compete according to rules, score is kept more or less honestly, some one is said to have won, and you shake hands afterwards, or at least don’t have your lawyer contract Academi aka Xe aka Blackwater to settle the score deductibly, or go the non deductible route with ethnic mafias, or DIY retribution.:-)

    Death wish sports are just a subset of sports, not something different.

    Car racing is a sport with a death wish.

    Long jumping against other competitors in a sand, or synthetic foam pit, is not a death wish sport.

    Long jumping off the open tailgate of a C130 without a parachute would be a death wish sport.

    Just me going out to shoot dinner with a bird dog on a hedge row is not a sport, its a recreation, or form of hunter-gatherer activity.

    But me going out to shoot dinner with a bird dog against another guy with a bird dog doing same with judges with timers and score keepers is a sport.

    Me working and growing a garden is not a sport.

    Competitive gardening with rules, judges and winners and losers would be a sport.

    Me cleaning and jerking a couple hundred pounds is a work out, not a sport.

    Me cleaning and jerking with rules, judges and winners and losers would be a sport.

    Sport involves rules, sets of incentives, penalties for cheating, and outcomes that lead to winners and losers.

    Lots of sports have death wishes as part of their lore.

    But a death wish alone is not enough for a sport.

    If I go out and try to wait till the last possible minute to jump out of the way of an oncoming train, that is a death wish activity.

    If I go out and do the same thing against another guy and with rules and judges and so on, then it becomes a sport with a death wish.

    Its the rules and judges and outcomes that make an activity a sport.

    The rules don’t always have to be written and the judges can be the players themselves, as in playground basketball.

  • Banned


    Don’t get me wrong I’m not against hunting for food, But I always laugh when some dude after a few beers and a bottle of whiskey while playing some poker decides to tell me how he took down that big old Buck. 🙂

    I always respond and ask so you’re a big time hunter. The response is always yep. Then I smile and say how about you hunt something that can hunt you back before you call it a sport? Of course their like no problem, you pick the hunt. I’m like ok 😉 Hunt a Tiger. NO hunting parties and NO guns, but I’ll let you have a bow an arrow. LOL

  • @sfbahawk Putting food on the table. Some people live their lies this way.

  • @sfbahawk

    Hunting is a sport. You can shoot yourself, or have another one with you shoot you. Remember Dick Cheney?

    And with bigger game, the animal can win the battle. Try hunting feral hogs and missing, or doing it the traditional way with a knife, where you approach the animal and slit his throat.

    Yikes! Something you wouldn’t want to do drunk!


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