PLEDGE NOW
The Ball: The Object Of The Game

From tennis to soccer to the NBA, the surprising history of why we play ball.

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant, right, puts up a shot as Denver Nuggets power forward Al Harrington defends during the first half in Game 5 of an NBA first-round playoff basketball game, Tuesday, May 8, 2012, in Los Angeles. The Nuggets won 102-99. (AP)

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant, right, puts up a shot as Denver Nuggets power forward Al Harrington defends during the first half in Game 5 of an NBA first-round playoff basketball game, Tuesday, May 8, 2012, in Los Angeles. The Nuggets won 102-99. (AP)

“Play ball!” we say, and that’s baseball.  But there are endless ways humans play ball.  There is something about that rolling, bouncing, flying sphere that we, as a species, just cannot get enough of.  It was there in prehistory, as we stepped up to the evolutionary mound. 

It was severed heads and stones and every kind of bladder before it was our sleek game balls today.  Ancient Romans had their ball games.  Ancient Mayans’ were blood sport.  Now our closets and back seats are jammed with every kind of ball – golf to racket to basket to volley. 

Up next On Point:  humans and the history of the ball.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

John Fox, an anthropologist, he’s the author of the new book The Ball: Discovering the Object of the Game.

From Tom’s Reading List

CNN “From the courts of the ancient Pharaohs to a simple game of catch on a spring afternoon; the ball has a centuries-long history of play. It’s one of our simplest yet most enduring inventions. While the games have evolved, the ball in all its various forms continues to play a key role in different cultures around the world.”

Video: The Ball Book Trailer

Check out this video about the book The Ball.

Excerpt: The Ball

Use the navigation bar at the bottom of this frame to reformat the excerpt to best suit your reading experience.

Classic Ball Game Moments

Check out this moment from the 2002 World Cup, with Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho kicking a free kick against England.

In this clip, John Havlicek seals the win for the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the 1965 Eastern Conference Finals against Wilt Chamberlain and the Philadelphia 76ers by knocking away Hal Greer’s inbounds pass in the final seconds..

Earlier this month Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton hit four homeruns in a single game.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
May 6, 2016
President Barack Obama drinks water as he finishes speaking at Flint Northwestern High School in Flint, Mich., Wednesday, May 4, 2016, about the ongoing water crisis.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

It’s Trump for the GOP. Clinton leads. Sanders hangs in. A Navy Seal killed by ISIS. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

May 6, 2016
Close-up of a Grauer's gorilla. Kahuzi-Biega National Park, one of the last remaining strongholds of the 
Grauer
’
s gorilla, the 
world
’
s largest gorilla subspecies. 
CREDIT: A.J.Plumptre/WCS.

Great gorillas being wiped out by war and poaching. We’ll go to the mountains of Africa. Plus, after the Ivory burn in Kenya- we look at the state of the world’s elephants.

RECENT
SHOWS
May 5, 2016
Rob Reiner with his son, Nick. [Courtesy: Paladin]

Filmmaker, actor Rob Reiner and his son, Nick, get personal in their new film “Being Charlie,” which takes on drug addiction.

 
May 5, 2016
Detroit teachers march outside the district headquarters, Monday, May 2, 2016, in Detroit. Detroit Public Schools transition manager Steven Rhodes says 45,628 of approximately 46,000 students were forced to miss classes Monday as 1,562 teachers called in sick. The mass sick-out has forced the district to close 94 of its 97 schools. Detroit's schools are expected to be out of cash starting July 1. The state earlier gave the district $48.7 million in emergency funding to keep it open through June 30 as the Legislature considers a $720 million restructuring plan. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Fixing Michigan- from Flint’s water crisis to failing schools in Detroit. Are state takeovers the answers or the problem?

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Devoured: We Are What (And How) We Eat
Tuesday, May 3, 2016

From chicken wings to kale smoothies, we look at what we eat, and how challenging it is to eat well in America.

More »
Comment
 
‘Embedded’: How Violent Gangs Are Terrorizing El Salvador
Thursday, Apr 14, 2016

NPR’s Kelly McEvers on her reporting in El Salvador for the podcast Embedded, and how gang killings brought San Salvador’s bus service to a halt.

More »
Comment
 
That Cheap Dress On Facebook? It Isn't Worth It
Monday, Apr 11, 2016

Know those shockingly cheap clothes you see advertised on Facebook? There’s a catch.

More »
Comment