Posts Tagged ‘basketball’

A day late, but not a dollar short, I finally made my way to the San Francisco Bay Area a week and a half ago.  The days have been filled with family, friends, and appointments. However, today there was nothing on the agenda, I was worn out from all the activities, and baby it was cold outside.  Thus, time to look back through photos earmarked for blog posts that had gone unwritten.

Leaving San Pablo Villa de Mitla after shopping for Pan de Muertos during Day of the Dead, we took a different route out of town and discovered a gymnasium with murals on the walls, both outside…

… and inside.  Traditional, political, and colorful imagery to inspire playing your best!

You just never know what you will find when you take the road less traveled.

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Basketball is big right now in the San Francisco Bay Area; as I write the Golden State Warriors are 35 and 2 and a new, albeit controversial, 18,000 seat arena is in the works.  But, I’ll bet it won’t have views like these…



Unlike in wider mestizo Mexico, where soccer reigns supreme, in the Sierra basketball is king. The sport was introduced in the 1930s by president Lazaro Cardenas as a way to bring Oaxaca’s disparate and historically rebellious indigenous groups into the national fold.

Cardenas’ dream of a unified national identity didn’t take root in the Sierra, which has historically been isolated and impoverished, but basketball soon became tied to the region’s most significan traditions, and to indigenous identity itself.  — Jorge Santiago



One of several canchas de baloncesto (basketball courts) in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca.

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Bulls, real…

Face of white bull

and imagined…

Face of bull painted on backboard of basketball hoop

… yesterday on the streets of San Juan Bautista Coixtlahuaca.

We were there for day four of the annual fiesta in honor of el Divino Señor del Calvario and to see the Templo y ExConvento de San Juan Bautista — another of the grand Dominican churches currently undergoing restoration.  More about both later.  No bull!

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Some rare good news from Florida…

Team photo

Two young Triqui basketball teams qualified to participate in the International Tournament YBOA (Youth Basketball of America) in Orlando, Florida this month.  They are from the Academia de Baloncesto Indígena México (ABIM), an athletic project founded by professor Sergio Zúñiga, with the mission of “rescuing the youth of the Triqui communities of Oaxaca from the extreme poverty and violence that they live in… to better the lives of these kids through sports and education.”  Read their story, including why they play barefoot, HERE.

The tournament has ended and, though they did not win the tournament championship, they won hearts and (one can only hope) minds.  To me, these young ambassadors were winners in the important ways that matter.  ¡Felicitaciones!

For video of the team playing and information about the documentary that is being made about these kids, take a look at the blog, Mexico’s Barefoot Champions.

October 2013 update:  They came and saw and conquered: Triqui sweep in World Basketball

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Basketball is big in Oaxaca and  was big news to me!

In Teotitlán del Valle, located in the valley Oaxaca, there is a tradition of climbing El Picacho on Día de la Santa Cruz (May 3).  I’d also heard celebrations also included an annual basketball tournament.  Sure enough, the sound of a play-by-play announcer, ref’s whistle, and buzzer occasionally floated up to our perch on the top of the mountain.  When we descended El Picacho via a different route, we came to a basketball court a few blocks from the village center, and an intense game in progress, with other teams waiting in the wings — in this case, the road!

Basketball game with mountain in background

Eight days later, we drove up into the Mixe in Oaxaca’s Sierre Norte for the Fiesta de Mayo in Santa María Tlahuitoltepec.  Once there, we were directed to a basketball court (did we hear correctly?) at the center of town — the mercado off to one side; church on another side; municipal buildings off to another.  We had expected folkloric dancers or ceremonial presentations, but were surprised to find a basketball tournament in progress.  It eventually ended and the expected dancing began.

Partially covered basket ball court.

According to Hoop Dreams in Oaxaca:

Any proper town in Latin America has a church facing a plaza — except the towns of the Sierra Norte region of Mexico, where Jorge Santiago is from.

“In my part of the Sierra, the basketball courts are like the zócalo in the colonial city,” Mr. Santiago said, using a Mexican word for “plaza.” “It’s really the most important part of the town. A respectable town has a church, and a basketball court in front of the church.”

Read full article HERE.

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