Column: History lessons on the field, Stickball game teaches about culture, sport

Published 4:21 pm Wednesday, March 30, 2022

With a man beating on a drum and flutes playing in the background at the Natchez Powwow Saturday morning, students from ACCS grabbed sticks and played a game older than the city of Natchez. At first, the students were a little slow to grasp the game of stickball, but over time they got better and better.

By the end, students were tackling each other, making passes, scoring goals and eluding opposing players with smiles. Some like Aiden Rochet enjoyed themselves on the field. He said it felt natural, like shooting a basketball. 

Tradition and heritage are important to culture and sports are a big part of that tradition. It is cool to watch a game once played by the people who first inhabited Mississippi being played in the modern day. 

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I tried to imagine what a game of stickball looked like 800 years ago. Did people gather to watch tribes play a game of stickball like we watch high school teams battle it out on the football field, basketball court or baseball/softball diamond?

I don’t know, but as the ACCS students ran across the stickball field while Powwow participants joined in gourd dances and drumming nearby, I certainly felt a sense of the culture.

We often consider baseball to be America’s past-time and football the great American game, but stickball would have been the first sport played on Mississippi soil eight centuries ago.

Perhaps stickball is a game we should spend more time playing and teaching.

Afterall, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians hold a World Series for Stickball in Philadelphia each year. 

And Natchez might just be the place to start a community stickball league, where participants could learn the history of the game and of the Native American culture.

 

Hunter Cloud is a sports writer for The Democrat. Contact him at hunter.cloud@natchezdemocrat.com