PLEDGE NOW
The Ball: The Object Of The Game

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

(Rebroadcast: this show was first broadcast May 14, 2012)

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

Guest

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.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Sep 4, 2015
A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of a migrant child after a number of migrants died and a smaller number were reported missing after boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized, near the Turkish resort of Bodrum early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (DHA/AP)

Migrant crisis in Europe. The Iran deal, cleared. A Kentucky clerk and gay marriage. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Sep 4, 2015
Serena Williams reacts after winning a point against Kiki Bertens, of the Netherlands, during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (Charles Krupa/AP)

Serena Williams. The undisputed queen of tennis, and what she’s meant in sports and beyond.

RECENT
SHOWS
Sep 4, 2015
Serena Williams reacts after winning a point against Kiki Bertens, of the Netherlands, during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (Charles Krupa/AP)

Serena Williams. The undisputed queen of tennis, and what she’s meant in sports and beyond.

 
Sep 4, 2015
A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of a migrant child after a number of migrants died and a smaller number were reported missing after boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized, near the Turkish resort of Bodrum early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (DHA/AP)

Migrant crisis in Europe. The Iran deal, cleared. A Kentucky clerk and gay marriage. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Martin O’Malley On ‘Rigged’ Democratic Debates
Wednesday, Sep 2, 2015

Former Baltimore mayor and Democratic Maryland governor Martin O’Malley has single digits in the polls in Iowa but is out there swinging. He joined host Tom Ashbrook on Wednesday.

More »
3 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: August 28, 2015
Friday, Aug 28, 2015

You say #hashtag, we say, #forwhat? That, plus Usain Bolt and the ominous lurking Segway cameraman. Friday!

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: August 21, 2015
Friday, Aug 21, 2015

Do you even click? (And other reflections on link sharing and web commenting).

More »
6 Comments