In Hidalgo, Mexico, a resolute group of athletes is meticulously revitalizing the ancient Mesoamerican ballgame, a practice whose origins can be traced back over three millennia. Unlike contemporary sports, this ancient game involved a solid rubber ball and relied solely on players’ hip movements for contact.
The revivalists are driven by an unwavering commitment to preserve their cultural heritage and honor the legacy of their ancestors. With its roots dating as far back as 1,000 BC, the Mesoamerican ball game far predates modern sports such as basketball and soccer, and yet the games share much in their DNA, their competition, and how they are played.
These athletes immerse themselves in historical research and intensive training to authentically resurrect a piece of their heritage that had faded with time. As they step onto the field, they not only engage in gameplay but also revive an intricate tapestry of tradition, strategy, and community bonding.
Intricately maneuvering the rubber ball with their hips, they channel the spirits of their forebears and offer a tangible link to the past.
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Top image: Hoop used for “scoring” in a Mesoamerican ballgame arena in Chichen Itza. Source: Diegograndi / Adobe Stock.