Sports, as any fan knows, can be heartbreaking — yet today, as we play ball in America, it’s always possible to walk away from a loss and say, “It’s only a game, after all.”
But the Mesoamericans — Mayans, Aztecs, Olmecs and such — played, shall we say, as if they really meant it. Their ballgames often ended with human sacrifices — sometimes of the captains of the losing teams, whose heads, some scholars say, may have been put in play in lieu of a ball. Makes getting sent down to the minors seem a little less tragic, doesn’t it?
On Wednesday, May 13 at noon in the Northwest Gallery of the Library of Congress’ Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First St. S.E., Barbara Tenenbaum, curator of the Library’s superb “Exploring the Early Americas” exhibition, will discuss “Mesoamerican Ballgames: The Sport of Life or Death.”
Among the objects displayed in the exhibition are stone yokes and other items associated with these early ballgames. “Exploring the Early Americas,” which features the excellent collection of Library donor Jay I. Kislak, also includes the Library’s 1507 Waldseemueller Map, the first document to use the name “America.”