Jai-Alai, or as it is commonly referred to as ‘big fuck off scoopy arm catchy squash’(BFOSACS if you’re feeling saucy). Yep I can confirm that it is definitely known as that by the masses and not by one sad human attempting to be funny. A sport famous for not just being a slightly more complex form of squash or for its blistering speed of the ball, but for the big scoopy hand baskets that each player has on their arm, which sticks out like a punk at an albino convention.
If the term ‘niche sport’ was a perfect fit for any sport it would be for Jai-Alai/BFOSACS, a unique sport that first came into fruition 4 centuries ago in the Basque Area of Spain’s Pyrenees Mountains. The wicker baskets attached to the hand however weren’t around in the original foundation of the game, which was first played barehand until players stated to wear leather on their hands to protect them from the hardball, whilst simultaneously pissing their vegan pals off. A Basque farmer in the late 1800’s had the miraculous idea of attaching a basket, known as The Cesta, to the hands which enabled players to be able to whip the ball faster and harder just like we all like it, am I right troops?
That farmer, who may have been a vegan by getting the leather gloves to fuck in favour of a basket, revolutionised the game of Jai-Alai making it into this incredibly fast game most of the world doesn’t know of today. From being a sport known purely in Spain it began to gain popularity across other Spanish speaking countries such as Mexico and Cuba. With the game growing in popularity it wasn’t long until the Americans caught wind of it and thought ‘we’ll be having a piece of that’ like they always do, after witnessing it at the 1904 World Fair in St Louis. After the world fair Jai-Alai places popped up all over the land of the free and became a fairly recognisable sport until it unfortunately hit its peak in the 1980’s.
Now only really played in Florida in Casino’s it’s a dying sport, being used as a more gambling spectacle for rich pricks in golf polo shirts and a straw hat betting on players like they’re horses in a horse race. That literally is the case, you can bet on who will come second with a place bet and even do a show bet, no joke, it’s more a gambling sport spectacle than a standard sport these days.
It is a bit of a shame Jai-Alai is dying and has taken a nose dive since it’s peak, as it is a captivating sport with the ball usually travelling over 170 miles an hour, which if it hit you would hurt more than your parents being heartbroken over something you did. The burning question however is, how is this game played? Well…
The game is either played individually or in teams where players catch and throw the ball, known as ‘The Pelota’, in turns and in one fluid motion without holding or juggling it against the front wall. Teams aim to gather points in numerous of ways, first to 7 or 9 points (depending on the game) wins and may or may not make a rich old white man more money.
Points are collected by the opponent failing to catch the ball on the fly or letting it bounce twice, opponent throwing the ball out of bounds or having ball bounce in the out of bounds area, illegal serving, not playing The Pelota in one fluid motion and by interfering with the opposing players turn. Each of these collect 1 point.
Games are played in either a round robin format with 8 teams of two players or with single players where it’s a winner stays on format – whoever loses the point has to go off court to the end of the line of players until they are at the front of the line again. Each team or player will be wearing a t shirt that has a number on the front making it known who you are not only betting on but also what number they start off with in the line. Players are also able to have their own number on the back of their shirts so you can still be that spud who thinks wearing 69 is absolutely hilarious.
As well as the t-shirt with the number on front players also have to wear white trousers and cute wee red sash around their waist called ‘The Fasa’ for unknown reasons, but most likely to cinch that waist and emphasise that figure honey. Players are also required to wear helmets – this wasn’t always the case which is fucking mental but after a player in 1968 was in a coma for 6 months after being hit in the head by the ball they became mandatory.
All jokes aside, Jai-Alai is a rather entertaining sport and girl if you thought a hockey puck was hard to follow then good luck trying to keep up with The Pelota. If you want to get into Jai-Alai it’s very unlikely you have any places near you that has a Jai-Alai court for you to get into the sport unless you’re live in the Basque area or Spain. Guess you’ll have to settle for YouTube videos and the segment in Jackass the TV show where Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O get oranges thrown at them by Jai-Alai players.
Swankie – 23, Scotland. Loveable Loser.