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John Fox (baseball)

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John Fox
John Fox (baseball).jpg
Born: (1859-02-07)February 7, 1859
Roxbury, Massachusetts
Died: April 16, 1893(1893-04-16) (aged 34)
Boston, Massachusetts
Batted: Unknown Threw: Unknown
MLB debut
June 2, 1881, for the Boston Red Caps
Last MLB appearance
August 9, 1886, for the Washington Nationals
MLB statistics
Win–loss record13–28
Earned run average4.16

John Joseph Fox (February 7, 1859 in Roxbury, Massachusetts – April 16, 1893 in Boston, Massachusetts), was a professional baseball player who played pitcher in the Major Leagues from 1881 to 1886. He played for the Boston Red Caps, Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Alleghenys, and Washington Nationals.

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EDDIE KAY: I'd like to introduce John Fox, who is a Harvard Ph.D. anthropologist, who has excavated ancient ball courts in Central America, traced Marco Polo's route across China, and bicycled Africa's Rift Valley in search of human origins. He has contributed commentary to Vermont Public Radio, has written for "Smithsonian," "Outside," and "Salon," among other publications, and in 2010 was awarded a MacDowell Colony Fellowship. He is also the author of "Around the World With a Million Kids: Adventures of an Online Explorer," a collection of essays written while co-leading the groundbreaking Quest Interactive Educational Expeditions. Please join me in giving a warm welcome to John Fox. [APPLAUSE] JOHN FOX: All right, thanks very much, Eddie. And thank you all for coming today. And anybody that is remote, hopefully you can hear me and see me as long as I stay in my box over here. So, great to come here and talk. I have to say thanks, first of all, to Google, because I used Google extensively in researching this book-- particularly Google Books, which I never realized until I actually had a book project myself to write what an extraordinary resource that is. So kudos to all you guys do. It's definitely a huge help. So first a little background on how this book came to be. It started, interestingly, with a question that my son asked me when he was 7. He is now 12, and he's still as fanatic about sports as ever. I was living in Vermont at the time-- had not moved to Boston yet-- and it was a spring day. It was Red Sox season. It was one of the seasons where they were actually winning from the get-go, which was good. It was a good spring. And we were playing catch in the backyard-- really sort of typical father-son scene-- and my precocious son stops, and he says, hey Dad, why do we play ball, anyway? It was one of these kind of existential questions that kids tend to ask at that particular age-- sometimes maddening, but always intriguing. And it kind of stuck with me. As the play went on, the moment passed, he got distracted by other things, and that was that. But for me it kind of stuck. And the reason it stuck was years before, as a graduate student in anthropology, I had done research on an ancient game played by the Maya and the Aztec in Central America. And I'd written a dissertation that probably five people read-- maybe six. And I'd spent time in the wilds of Honduras excavating these ancient stadiums that I'll talk a little bit more about and became captivated by that subject. But I had set it aside, done other writing and other work, and the years had moved on. But his question sparked a new interest in the topic. And it kind of broke it open in the way that kids can do that, because it took it from a kind of esoteric, academic subject to something much bigger and philosophical. Why do we play ball? Why do we play the games we play? How did we get to the games we play today in terms of the history of these games? And ultimately, why do they mean so much to us? Why are we so unbelievably obsessed and captivated with them? So that set me off on a journey-- literally-- around the world and through time exploring a lot of the games we're familiar with and some that we're not. So today I'm going to whip you through the centuries and across some continents to give you an overview of where the book and the story took me. And then I'll open it up for questions, and we can talk a little bit more. So this is an image that I love-- really, really, really love. It was photographed by a woman named Jessica Hilltout in a book called "Amen," and it was during the last World Cup in South Africa. And she decided to look at the other side of the game of soccer. So while all the fanfare was happening in Johannesburg, she went off into all these villages in Africa. And she gave out soccer balls-- like nice, shiny Adidas balls-- in return for photographing the balls that kids were using in these villages. And this is one of them made from rags and twine. The photos in this book are just incredible. One of the things that they convey is this kind of desire to play, the desire and the passion around these objects-- the ball-- that whether you have the technology, and you have the money to purchase the latest and greatest, you figure out a way. And it says a lot about the spirit of the game. I had to throw this in. I realize 1,000,360,000 results for "ball" is actually a pretty good number. I googled "God" right after this, and it was only a few hundred billion more than ball. So it clearly is a pretty dominant theme globally, I would say. I would love your help in moving my book up the rankings here. As you can see, they're not close to the top. So first of all, I decided to start at the beginning, or even before the beginning. In other words, "why do we play ball" starts with "why do we play at all?" And what is play? And I found in my research there's a lot of incredibly interesting research going on now-- scientific research-- around the importance of play, not just socially, but also psychologically, developmentally, especially for kids. And a lot of this research is focused on animals, because as this great scholar Johan Huizinga who wrote this treatise on play in the early 20th century commented, "Animals haven't waited for man to teach them how to play." So anybody who has a dog, goes out and plays ball with them, or has seen other animals play knows that this is really true, that play is not something that we invented. It's something much deeper and much more ancient than that. So I went to Florida to a place called Gulf World-- pretty quirky, old, kind of falling apart marine park-- where I met a scientist named Stan Kuczaj, who's originally a psychologist and is now a dolphin researcher. And he's been studying, for years, play among dolphins. And he's found some really interesting things. One is that dolphins are extremely playful, particularly this one type that he studied called rough-toothed dolphins. They use play as a way of learning about the world and testing their physical limits, understanding the boundaries-- both the social boundaries of their pod and their relationship with other dolphins-- but their physical boundaries in terms of how to swim in the wild and be safe and dodge predators and be on the alert. So he's done all these studies that really indicate that play for dolphins is a fundamental part of their survival. And this is interesting, and this research is interesting, because for years play was seen as the opposite of what's serious or work. It was seen as something frivolous, and scientists had really struggled to find any biological reason why any animal should play. In fact, if you really boil it down, play often exposes animals to danger. It depletes their energy. It puts them in precarious situations, oftentimes, where they're distracted. So in many respects, play should be the opposite of something that selected for, and yet it's selected for again and again. There's been some other really interesting studies done with rats where one group of rats is separated from another. One group is allowed to play and encouraged to play with frenzy, and the other is shut out and apart from each other, and they're not allowed to play. And over time, the ones that are playing develop a protein-- a neurotrophic factor-- that actually stimulates the prefrontal cortex, which is where emotional intelligence and decision making originates. So a lot of these studies are showing that play actually makes you smarter-- makes animals smarter and most likely humans in the way it helps us actually develop our brains, our social skills, our emotional intelligence. So that was where the book started, was what is play, and where does it come from? And there's a lot more on that. Sweeping through time-- so there's not much evidence for ball play or sports, obviously, among hunter-gatherers in the Paleolithic. There's not much evidence for much of anything in that period except for some cave paintings and stones and such. But it's also not a stretch to think that play and sports probably originated in the hunt. When you think of the skills that are involved in the hunt, they're not that far from the skills that ultimately are involved in sports. And even the tool kits of the Paleolithic hunter-- the spear, the rock, the net, the throwing stone-- these are things that you might find in a sort of prehistoric sporting goods store. So there's not a stretch to think that sports evolved as a way of-- like the dolphins-- testing boundaries, of using play as a way of honing skills that would have more application in real life, in the hunt, in protecting yourself and your family, and so on. But that's mostly speculation. It's really not until the growth of civilizations-- Mesopotamia and Egypt-- we actually start to see evidence that they were playing ball. They were playing sports. They had already begun to worship this sacred orb, as I often call it. This is a depiction from a tomb in Egypt, 1500 BC, showing King Tuthmosis with a ball in his left hand and a stick the right and these little servants offering him new balls. This particular scene is shown again and again and again in this period of ancient Egypt. And it seems that there was an actual ceremonial game played by the pharaoh called seker-hemat in which the ball was struck into the four directions. It was seen as defeating the serpent enemy of the gods. There was a lot of mythology around it and a lot of ceremony around it. It's the first time we find archaeological balls in some of these tombs. Some of them are made from papyrus. Some of them are skin stuffed with all kinds of materials. There's even a kind of primitive bowling set that was found in a tomb of a young boy during this time. So we know that these games had already started, already had meaning in these cultures. Of course, in ancient Greece and Rome these games continued. The ancient Greeks played a game called episkyros, which was kind of like rugby. There were anywhere from 12 to 15 people on a side. It's hard to understand all of the rules from the text, but it's clear that they played these sports. They weren't part of the Olympics, ever. The Olympics were seen as serious games for serious warriors and athletes, whereas ball games were seen as fun, frivolous play, like child's play. So they were in two different categories. But they did play a lot of ball sports. Real organized sports in the Old World really kick off in around the 10th century in England. And that's when football, broadly speaking, hits the scene. And when I talk about football, I mean, like, all of football-- American football, soccer, rugby. The root of all those games goes back at least to 10th-century England. And there's wonderful accounts from the earliest periods of the medieval era of these huge mob games being played between one village and another. This is a depiction from the early 19th century in the Normandy region of France. And it's hard to tell here, but there's just basically an enormous scrum going on of hundreds of men tousling over a ball. And so for hundreds of years through the medieval period, this was happening in villages all over Europe, where one town or one parish would compete against another. They were, kind of as a holdover to earlier times, highly symbolic affairs with religious connotations. This game la soule, played in France, the name is believed to come from sol, or the sun. And some of the beliefs were that whichever side managed to capture the ball in these contests would ensure a good harvest for their town or their particular area. Or in some cases, it was the fisherman versus the farmers, and if the fishermen won, there would be good fish that year. So these were symbolic affairs. They were usually played around feast days like Mardi Gras-- so right before Lent-- kind of crazy affairs-- lots drinking, lots of playing and carousing. And that's really how football started, which is not that far from where it's ended up. So this book that I wrote was way more than history. I've always liked to use whatever I do as an excuse to travel. That's the only way I became an archaeologist or have done anything exciting in my life is just very, very into traveling. So for this particular chapter on football, I learned about a holdover of this mob football game that's played twice a year on the island of Orkney, north of Scotland, which is a very cold, very remote, kind of rocky place. And on Christmas and New Year's Day, the two sides of town face off against each other, just as they did in medieval times. The sides are known as the uppies and the doonies, because there's one street in town called Post Office Lane, which is probably from here to that wall. And if you're born on the upper side of that, then you're an uppie for your whole life. It's like being a Celtics fan or Red Sox fan for life. And if you're born on the other side, you're a doonie, because you're on the downward side. And there's no choice. You don't put on a uniform. You don't get to decide. It's just that's the way you're born, and that's your side for life. On these two days, all of the men from town who are on one side or another get out in front of the church at 1:00 PM. An incredible handcrafted ball made by the local shoemaker is thrown from the front of the church into this pack of men-- literally a sea of men. And for the next six hours, they struggle over this ball. There's really no rules to speak of. There's unspoken rules of etiquette. But pretty much, it's just a brutal affair. And the objective is the uppies have to take the ball uptown and touch it to this ancient wall at Mackinson's Corner, and the doonies have to go the other direction and submerge it in the sea on the downward side of town. And other than that, it's all hell breaks loose. And it's one of the most incredible affairs. I'll hopefully show you at the end a little clip so you can get a better sense of it. But this is how football got started-- was really a kind of tribal affair. And this sense of belonging that these men have and this ritual that they go through every year, it's not only a game, but it literally is kind of the cornerstone of their culture. If you took this game out of it, they wouldn't know what to do. And that's how they speak of it, is that kind of passion. So it was really incredible to be able to see that and it does give you a sense of why we play these games. This is another scene. You can see the church. This is right after the ball gets swallowed into the mouth of the pack, as I like to call it. And you won't see that ball, maybe, for another couple of hours. You'll see the scrum bouncing off alleyways and making its way through town, but it's rare you see the ball. All the shops and the streets are barricaded very heavily, because this pack will go right through the windows otherwise. The year I was there, there was a guy who was a flat-lander from London or someplace who came up to watch it. And the poor guy left his BMW on the street. Like, he didn't know. And the pack literally went up and over this thing and just squashed it. And then they were fighting over who was going to pay for it. And they were like, (SCOTTISH ACCENT), oh, it's an act of God. So on from there. So football began as this mob sport. It was the people's game from the very beginning, and it still is. We think of the global expanse of soccer, football, there's a reason for that. It has roots where everybody's involved. It brings everyone in. Tennis developed in a completely different way, although in a similar time frame. So tennis has its roots in 13th-century France, and it started in the monasteries, interestingly. The monks, who were busy wearing hair shirts and prostrating themselves, did occasionally have fun. And they invented this game of tennis, which they called jeu de paume because it was played with the palm of the hand, originally. And for the first 200 years of the game, there was no racket, and there was no net. It was basically a kind of hand ball game. But they played it in the cloisters. And the depiction on the left is actually from the 1600s in Paris of one of these jeu de paume courts. And you can see if you think of your history books and what a medieval courtyard would look like. It's got these sloping penthouses and these galleys on the side and a kind of courtyard. So the court, as it's evolved through time and as it's still played today, reflects this. On the right is one of these jeu de paume courts. In the US it's called court tennis, and in England it's called real tennis. And you can see it hasn't changed much. Still got the penthouses, still got these galleys and these unusual lines for how you score points. So tennis began as a monastic sport, but then the princes of the neighboring area were, of course, being educated in the monasteries. So it quickly became the sport of kings. It was an elite sport. Shakespeare wrote about it many, many times. Through the 1500's and 1600's, it was the absolute rage on the royal circuit to the extent where there were 250 of these rather enormous, substantial courts in Paris alone in that time period. Today, there is exactly one in Paris, which I went to, and one on the outskirts of Paris. This one on the right is at the Chateau de Fontainebleau, which is one of the palaces of the French kings. And I got a lesson in how to play this ancient form of tennis and come to appreciate it at the same time. One of the cool things about this game-- there are are many cool things about it-- first of all, that it's even still surviving. There's, I think, 45 courts left in the world where you can actually play this game. One of them is in Boston on Boylston Street, and I played there. This is from the 1600s, showing there was an actual person called a paumier who was responsible for making the balls and the racquets, kind of a court pro. And they still exist. And this guy [? Mattie, ?] who I spent time with in Fontainebleau still makes the balls by hand. You can see, essentially, the same technique, the same technology-- very simple, very primitive, you can say. But that's part of the art of the game is the fact that you go to a court where somebody can make the balls just the way you like them. And that's a real skill that is, frankly, dying and dying fast. OK, you're going to have some travel whiplash here, but at the same time tennis was exploding in Europe, of course, Europeans were heading to the New World to conquer and create mayhem, among other things. And they arrived full of their game, and they had other balls that were filled with wind. And they brought those with them. Columbus, on his second voyage, brought some of these balls. And they arrived in the New World and in the Yucatan region. And they encountered the Maya Indians and the Aztecs, of course. And they were shocked to find that there was a sport being played there that was quite sophisticated, and even more shocked to find that they were playing with this substance that they'd never seen before, that they thought was possessed by demons. Because the substance would bounce 12 feet in the air, ricochet off walls, and had this life in it which was perplexing to them. They had never seen anything like it-- of course, it was rubber-- because they never encountered rubber before. It was indigenous to Mexico and Central America. The Maya, and the Olmec before them, had been playing this sophisticated sport with this solid rubber ball for, at that point, almost 2,000 years. The earliest ball courts that look like this date to about 1200 BC. So at the same time those Egyptians were playing their games, which were kind of ceremonial, the Maya, the Aztecs, and their predecessors were playing what was actually a much more sophisticated and complex and very athletic game. The game today is called ulama. So that's the name that I usually use to talk about it. It was played in a court like this-- lots of different shapes, but usually an alleyway where the actual play happened between two teams. There is a lot of different kinds of markers, but here you can see rings fairly high up. The object to the game was to knock this rubber ball usually with your hips, sometimes with your forearm padded, through one of these rings and otherwise score points. This is a depiction, from a Maya polychrome vase that's been rolled out by a photographer, that shows one of these games in action. So you see these players in motion. You see them against a temple behind them with musicians, and it's this big ceremony. And so a lot of the depictions of this game that we see are highly ceremonial. And in fact, we see enough of these to come to understand that there was life and death consequences associated with this game, and that at least in some of these rituals, most likely the losers lost their heads, quite literally. So this is a depiction from a site called Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula. I don't know if anyone's ever been there. Yeah. It's a pretty widely touristed site, and they have this enormous ball court there, which is kind of Madison Square Garden-scale ball court. And on the side in stone is this carving that shows two players. One of them is standing on the left with a knife in his hand made of stone and a head in his left hand. And on the right is a player whose head has been decapitated, and out of it sprouts serpents and squash plants. And in between is the ball, but the ball is shown as a skull. So there's this symbolism. And we see these kinds of depictions again and again. And clearly, there was a very symbolic connection between playing this game, the sacrifice of the loser-- or the captive, if there was warfare leading up to this-- and the offering to the gods. And it was believed that-- with these squash plants you'll see-- through this act, you regenerated the cosmos. This was part of this ritual cycle of the Maya and the Aztecs. And it was just a fundamental part of their religion-- a lot more than just a ball game. I spent time in this small village in West Mexico. There's only about 100 people who still play this game. It's the oldest continuous sport in the world. And they still make these rubber balls. You can see a player there leaping to connect with a ball. But this game is dying, in part because with development, it's really hard to get the rubber. And a lot of the rubber plantations are located in areas that are dominated by narcotraficos. So if you want a ball, you might pay for it with your head or other body parts. So unfortunately, this game is dying-- dying quickly. So then I looked from there at lacrosse, which was a chapter which I won't talk about. But I got into baseball, because it has been our national pastime. And I wanted to understand, how does a game become a national pastime, and what does that actually mean? Some form of hitting a ball with a bat goes way back. This is a French medieval document from 1301 that shows a pretty good line drive happening in the lower left there. So clearly, hitting a ball with a bat is not that sophisticated a thing to do. There were probably cavemen doing that. Doesn't necessarily make the game baseball, but it has deep roots. But the game really emerged in England, again, much to the chagrin of nationalist Americans. This is one of the first depictions of a game described as baseball, with two words, from 1744. And this is actually a woodcut from a children's book by John Newbery, for whom the Newbery Medal is named after. And it was just a silly little story about little kids, but they're playing an early version of baseball. Again, in this case, they're using their hand, because back then it was like, if you had a bat, you had a bat. If you didn't, you hit it with your hand. But you can see the three stones that were used as bases and this guy on the left who's pitching it. And they describe in there that the idea of the game is to strike the ball and then run the bases in the circuit. And the way you got somebody out was to soak them, which means you hit them with the ball. And baseball's rules, originally, were all about getting soaked by the ball. It was only in the late 1850s that they changed that rule, because it was becoming more of a grown up game, and people didn't want to get hit by the ball every time they ran to first base. But the interesting thing about baseball is that it really started as a children's game. It was not taken seriously until some local businessmen in New York in the 1840s started playing it on their breaks from work and started putting rules around it and turning it into a real sport. And one of the interesting stories in baseball that I researched is around this man. I don't know if anybody knows who this is. AUDIENCE: Cartwright. JOHN FOX: This is Doubleday. Yeah, Abner Doubleday, Cartwright is the real father of baseball. So Abner Doubleday, who's long been held up as the father of baseball, invented in a cow pasture in Cooperstown in 1839, the whole story is essentially made up. And the story of how this story came to be is pretty interesting and speaks to the desire for a national game. The brief version is that Albert Spalding-- AG Spalding-- of Spalding Sporting Goods now was a great pitcher-- pitched with the Red Stockings, pitched with the White Stockings, and was manager, was one of the stars of his age, basically, in the mid-19th century, late 19th century. But he had bigger aspirations. He started to see that this baseball thing had traction, and he had the instincts of a businessman. So he started Spalding Sporting Goods and very rapidly became incredibly successful business. He just monopolized the sporting goods industry. And so he became kind of the father of the game, like, marshaling it along, and turning it into a real sport, and evangelizing it. And around that time, this controversy had been swirling about, where did baseball originate? It's the ultimate American game. It's the era of Manifest Destiny, and America needed a game. Unfortunately, the reality was that a lot of the experts of the time knew that this game had English roots. And so there was a lot of controversy around, well, was it really from England, or was that a separate, different game? And was it really an American invention, like all good things? So Albert Spalding, in 1905, actually formed a national committee to research baseball's origins. And he put out ads in newspapers far and wide. And a letter came into a newspaper in Ohio from this guy named Abner Graves-- just random guy-- saying, basically, I was there when baseball was invented. And it was by the Civil War hero Abner Doubleday. We were playing marbles in a cow pasture, and Doubleday came up, and he scratched out the diamond in the sand, and he showed us how to play it. And that was that. And that was good enough for Spalding. There was no other evidence, and he essentially declared that the game was invented in Cooperstown in 1839. And most people were fine with that, because it fit the time period-- that idea of invention and Manifest Destiny around sport. Unfortunately, there is no evidence to support that at all. In fact, Doubleday, when he was supposed to be inventing baseball, was at West Point, which is more than 100 miles away. And all the records show that he never left during that time period. He left behind like 67 diaries-- never mentions baseball once in all of his diaries. And this guy, Abner Graves, who concocted this story, ended up being a complete nut job. He claimed to have been on the Pony Express like 10 years before the Pony Express had started. He ended up killing his wife and spending his final years in an insane asylum. But even as recently as four years ago, I think, Bud Selig, who is the Major League Baseball commissioner, said that he still believed that Abner Doubleday had invented baseball. So it just shows you these nationalist myths die hard. American football-- so where we left football was in the alleyways of Orkney and this mob game, the medieval game that was being played. That went on for some years, but football was a troublemaker sport from day one. People were getting mauled and killed, and property was being broken in these big mob scrums. In the 15th century alone, the game was banned like nine times by the English kings. You couldn't play it within London, because it was too dangerous. So this game, from the very beginning, was kind of marked. People had an issue with it, so much so that with all these bannings, there was a period in the 1600s to the early 1800s where the game was dying off. It just wasn't played that widely. And where it was kept alive was in the public schools of England-- what we think of as private schools-- these little schools like Eton and Rugby where these elite kids were educated. And one writer described these places as the "ludic zoos of the age," because this is where these games that would have died otherwise were preserved by these scrappy kids, basically. And what happened in those schools is different versions of football developed. So at Eton, they developed a game that was focused more around kicking and keeping the ball low. And at Rugby, where they had this huge expanse of green, they developed a running and carrying game, which involved tackling. So you had these different kinds of games. Some of them allowed tackling and holding and running with ball, and others didn't. And there was just kind of a mishmash of sports. And it was really here in the late 19th century that these sports started to get codified. So soccer-- association football-- in the 1860s got its rules. And it looked like America was going down the path of more of a soccer type of sport. And it was actually Harvard that intervened, because all of the local Ivy League schools had banded together and said, we're going to codify rules. You can't tackle. You can't carry the ball. And Harvard said, we're out. We're not playing by those rules, because we've been playing for years by these Boston rules. And the Boston rules allow ball handling and tackling under certain circumstances. And they eventually had their way. They eventually imposed their will over this commission, and American football evolved as the physical game that it is today. But what I always find interesting is people talk about Americans as rejecting the global game of soccer, which I don't think is the case, because soccer didn't really exist at all until the 1860s as a game with its own rules. By that time, we were already incubating other versions of the game. So it was really more a case that we had a form of the game that we liked, and that by the time soccer became anywhere near a global game, we were already doing our own thing. And Americans do have that independent streak, so we weren't about to reverse history and go back. To cover football, I went out to Ohio to the one factory in this place called Ada where they produce every football that's used in the NFL and have since the 1950s. So basically, 150 workers in this old-school factory that hand make these footballs with, again, pretty basic machinery, which was pretty cool. I learned that it takes five cows to service a single NFL game, if you add up the leather involved and where the leather comes from. So I always found that a fun little fact. So I got to see how this was produced and learn about the whole way that football took this rough game of soccer or rugby and created this incredibly disciplined game with incredibly sophisticated rules over a pretty brief period of time. But unfortunately-- or fortunately, depending on how you roll-- it never shook off the violence at its core. [SNEEZE] JOHN FOX: Bless you. And in fact, with every rule that was laid down to control the violence early on, the game got more violent. So early on, there were these massive scrums and these mass plays-- flying wedges and other plays designed to essentially mow down the other team with full brute force so badly that early on, one year there was something like 14 college players who died on the field playing football. There were no helmets. So it was a brutal game. Teddy Roosevelt formed a commission around it, because there were schools who were banning it. So this was a theme that goes back centuries for football. And of course, the theme is still with us today. In fact, I think it comes in cycles. And in recent years, of course, there's been a lot of talk about brain damage from concussions. This is actually from-- some of you guys, I'm sure, played "Madden," or still do. But this is from an earlier version where, when there was an injury, the ambulance would come out and run over all the players, which was kind of funny. But this violence is still with the game and in recent years has become, of course, really controversial. This is a suicide note from Dave Duerson, who was a Pro-Bowl Chicago Bears, then New York Giants, two-time Super Bowl winner who is believed to have suffered from this disease-- chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is caused by repeated concussions. Science is still not 100%, but it's believed to cause this condition. And he was severely depressed and abusive to his family and ended up killing himself. But he didn't shoot himself in the head. He shot himself in the chest and left a note to say, please see that my brain is given to the NFL bank, because he believed that it was because of football that he was not feeling like himself. And of course, now there's 200 lawsuits in the NFL, and a lot of parents aren't letting their kids play high school ball. There's some terrible stories from Western Mass recently about concussions in games. So it's become more and more of an issue. And finally-- and I'll drop off here-- I looked at basketball, which is my favorite game, personally. And I love this story just because it is the one sport that we play today that was invented from whole cloth in Springfield, Mass by this guy James Naismith. And all these other games evolved over centuries, and this one was really, truly invented and in a matter of a few years had spread globally through the YMCA, which is where the game originally was invented. And one of the things I talk about in the book-- because unfortunately, a lot of history of sports is about men, like a lot of history-- this game very quickly-- like literally within a year-- got completely taken over by women, who realized that it was a game they could play. It wasn't highly physical. It was skill based. It was good exercise. And this is a wonderful image from Smith College from about 1894 showing women trying to play the game in these long petticoats. So that's the whirl of this book. And you'd have to read the book to find out if I ever got an answer to my son's question of why we play ball. It's one of those questions that there's certainly not a single answer to. But I think over the course of these trips and these chapters that I hopefully was able to distill some of the things that make these games so important to us. And part of it for me was being able to convey that to my son, to be focused on the things that matter, rather than all the other stuff that doesn't matter that we read about in the papers. I do want to mention-- and then I'll take questions-- that we're making a documentary about this right now-- I've got a clip, but I'd rather open it up for questions if there are any-- which hopefully will be out in the fall. And it's called "Bounce: How the Ball Taught the World to Play." And we've been shooting in different locations. We're going to Mexico next month to film ulama. We're working with two great filmmaker friends of mine who are using this incredible camera, and so far, the footage looks wonderful. And it's basically a cinematic exploration of the ball and global passions for sports. So look for that hopefully next year. That's it. I'll take questions, thoughts, whatever you got. Yeah. AUDIENCE: Who won, the uppies or the doonies? JOHN FOX: Oh, good question. So when I got there, I found that if you're born there, it depends which side of Post Office Lane you're born. But of course, there's a lot of people who come from outside who watch this game. And you, as visitor, also have to be an uppie or a doonie. So they devise these very elaborate rules. It's wherever you set foot in town first-- which side you first set foot on-- determines, again, whether you're an uppie or a doonie for life. So I ended up setting foot on the doonie side. That's where I got out of the taxi in front of my B&B. And I was psyched, and I was talking to all these doonies and feeling like one of them, and then I found out that they hadn't won in like 12 years. So I was instantly a member of a losing franchise. But they won for the first time in 12 years. And it wasn't because I did anything, unless I have some great luck. But it made it all the more exciting, because I was literally hanging out with these losers for two days and interviewing them. And I'm like, yeah, but they're going to lose, and that's no good. And then they won, I was like, oh, this is a great story. So now I'm a doonie for life. AUDIENCE: I was just going to ask if you know why it's called pigskin. JOHN FOX: Yeah, so it's called pigskin because the early balls used for football and other games were basically inflated pig bladders. They didn't have rubber until-- well, the Mayans had invented it years before, but we didn't figure it out until Goodyear created vulcanization. So they actually were made of pig skin, and that's where that term "pigskin" comes from. So the outside has pretty much always been cow skin, but it's still got that name stuck with it. Yes? AUDIENCE: Did you see any trends over time in the rewards for the games? Like all this competitiveness goes towards [? a cause ?] like winning, and you get credibility or pride. But over time, in your study, did you find that-- with the Mayans, you were talking about it was literally life or death. The gladiator games, and now we've moved towards a little more mediated version of that. JOHN FOX: Yeah, well, it's an interesting question. One of the things that I found interesting is that very early on in these ancient games, the object of most of the games seemed to be to capture a ball and bring it back to your home territory. And it seemed to have, again, this symbolism around the capture of the hunt, of the prey, or agriculturally, of the Sun and the symbolism around that. And then it shifted at some point from capturing something to essentially invading enemy territory, which is what a lot of our games are. It's about penetrating the defense and scoring a goal. So there's that, and somewhere I think there's an interesting thing that happened, and we moved toward the invasion of enemy territory. I think in terms of the actual bounty, obviously, one of the biggest ones was the idea of getting paid to play the game. And that was a huge controversy in most of these sports in the 19th century. Lacrosse was an interesting example because lacrosse, of course, was originally a Native American game. And it was in Montreal where the Native Americans, who were on reservations there, introduced this game to some of the Westerners there who thought it was a pretty cool game, and they started playing it, too. But of course, the Indians in the surrounding communities were way better than the white guys who were playing this game. There was no contest. But the Indians were dirt poor. They had no money, and so these white clubs would start paying these Indians to play. But then they were considered ringers. So then they established rules, effectively, that no Indian could play lacrosse in any of these circuits and any of these clubs. So the Indians were literally, during that period, banned from playing their own game. And it was largely because they were seen as violating this kind of amateur code and getting paid for it, even though they were just trying to survive. And there's a lot of stories like that-- that period of time where the people were really grappling with this idea of sports being gentlemen's games played for love of nation or amateur ideals versus getting paid. And obviously, that all kind of got blown up along the way. But I think it's still with us when you see debates around NCAA and college football. There's still a lot of that around. Like, what's right? What's wrong? What's too much? What are the right reasons to play and the wrong reasons to play? Yeah. AUDIENCE: So now we see all these games as competition. But you talked about, originally, some of them were played in monasteries and stuff. Was it still a competition, or was there some higher goal? Can you talk about what's the purpose, somehow? JOHN FOX: Yeah, that's a good question, because I think it's true. I think competition's been probably part of it all along, but there was much more of an emphasis on shared outcomes. I would say in my view, even with the Kirkwall Ba'-- the crazy game in Orkney-- even though there's ferocious competition and there's a winner and a loser, the object of that game is the game. The object of that game is to perpetuate this tradition and the rules around it, which are the founding rules of that social order. To me, that's like the goal of that game. And the fact that there are winners and losers is essential to creating the dynamic of a good sport. But it's not what it's all about. And at the end of the day, these guys are like-- and I interviewed lots of people-- they were like, it's how you play the game. And they don't say it like your kid's coach does, which is kind of a truism. But they say it with complete conviction. This is what it's all about. It's about keeping this thing alive. So I think those two things can co-exist. I think it's more like a sliding scale. I would say we've kind of slid off maybe one end of that scale these days with a lot of sports. Yes. AUDIENCE: Sort of curious-- how did the spectator, who observes without participating, come about? How long has that been around? JOHN FOX: That's a good question. I mean, if you look at football, it really was-- at least for men-- it was pretty much all in. When you see these scrums, and you see these big games, everybody played a role. And even in Orkney, you'd see these 80-year-old men who wouldn't be the guy in the middle of the scrum-- because their wives would kill them, even though they want to be there. But they'd be the guys on the outside of the pack calling the moves and strategizing-- not coaches, but very much players. And I think that goes back to medieval times. I think tennis actually started to break that down a little bit. And part of it is you have these galleys, and it was this kind of elite, royal game. So ladies would sit on the edges, and people would gather, and it would be kind of a society affair. And then getting into the 19th century, then, of course, people started to figure out that you could pay for these things. So I think it started probably pretty early on, but it started in some sports and not in other sports, interestingly. Yeah. AUDIENCE: It seems like what happens in the [? arcades ?] is very much something that binds a town together. And what strikes me as odd is that that's not more common-- that you don't see that in more-- especially small-- communities. Why is that? Why are there not more of these kind of examples of community games that bring towns together? JOHN FOX: Yeah, I don't know. I know what you mean. I'm not sure I agree 100%. I think there are obviously a lot of communities that are really brought together by their home team. I mean, especially college football-- it's crazy. There was a study down in Tennessee-- a sociological study. After family, football came before church in Tennessee as the most important thing to people there. But of course, there, it's very much my team versus your team. But I think those things still exist in some communities. I just think in a place like Orkney, they've literally worked really hard at this. First of all, it's like a tiny rock out in the ocean. So it's been kind of protected from the ways of the rest of the world for some time. So I guess it's been able to sort of live in its bubble, whereas in other places, people are coming and going. People are transient. People are trying to make money off things. It just changes the dynamic through time. I don't know. That's what I'm guessing. You had a question, sir. AUDIENCE: Yeah, just a small terminology correction. Sorry. The Smith College women's basketball team were wearing bloomers-- JOHN FOX: Oh, bloomers, OK. AUDIENCE: --which were a late 19th-century invention for women's athletics. JOHN FOX: They were, indeed. Good call. They were not wearing Spandex or other useful materials for play. Good. All right, well thank you guys very much. [APPLAUSE]

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