A Conversation for Jai-Alai - the World's Fastest Sport

jai alai

Post 1

Researcher 160224

I'm a basque and I must say that I don't agree with the part regarding the history of the game.
I don't know much about it's futher development in the Americas, but as far as it concerns to the Basque Country, many of your notes are wrong. Just to give you an example, the name Jai Alai is just one frequent name for Pelota courts (frontones) in hte Basque Country; other frequent names are Euskal Jai, Atano III, ... How this turned into the actual name for the sport in the Americas, I don't know.

jai alai

Post 2

Researcher 160910

Well, I am not basque, but French and I live in the US. Before going any further, Mark, I truly appreciated to find a summary on jai-alai, and would like to thank you for this effort! The h2g2 concept is great. That said:

I share Tritxe's doubts about your sources... smiley - sadface

1- Tritxe is right: the "jai-alai" term is not the actual name of the game, at least in the Basque country. Who knows how it has been created. The "Basque Ball" games actually include much more varieties: bare hand, pala etc.
The "chistera game" is just one of them, and I think jai-alai is a mere mutation of the "chistera game".

2- There is more frontons in Florida than anywhere else in the world ? Well, better go outside of this country, my friend...and check out the Basque country in Spain and France. smiley - winkeye But be advised that any kid there knows what a chistera is and some 12yo could potentially kick your ass at this game. I have been to a tiny 50-people village that had no church, no city hall, no store, just a few houses and believe me or not, they had built their own city fronton there ;-p

3- Spanish and French players dream of coming to Miami ? If you got my points #1-2, you'll understand in the small villages of the Basque country, they have no idea that their game has been adopted in Florida as "Jai-Alai", and that people are betting on it.

My 2 cents.
Thanks again for the h2g2 web site. Keep on the good work!


jai alai

Post 3


Oh, USAns against Basques. That is a nice discussion. I would propose that each one brings real data (specially about court numbers, or results of Miami vs. Basque player games, if any). I will try to research some and will post soon...

jai alai

Post 4


Thanks for a very helpful piece about the game. It's going to help a lot when watching it on TV.

I do live in the Basque country, my local deli is called Jai Alai and is owned by a charming man who was a world famous player in Miami. He confirms that Jai Alai is normally the name for the court locally.

My Uncle in Law was also a professional and well known player in Miami.

Every kid that plays Jai Alai knows where Miami is, in fact I'd say every kid indeed knows where Miami is. I might comment that it is perhaps a touch patronising to suggest otherwise. I hope you'll forgive me for pointing out that that The Basque Country along with Catalonia is probably the most developed and highly educated part of the Peninsula.

"To be a true Basque, three things are required: to have a name which bespeaks Basque origin, to speak the language of the descendants of Aitor, and to have an UNCLE IN AMERICA."
as Pierre Lhande-Heguy first secretary of Basque Academy of Language said in 1910. (source The Basque History of the World by Mark Kurlansky).

So it seems to have been a common destination of choice for some time, indeed some believe that the Basques got to America before Columbus did.

I agree that it would be interesting to compare how many courts there are over here in Euskal Herria, I'm going to try and find out, watch this space. Who's going to check the States, I'd be willing to bet (if it were possible) that the Basque Country will win hands down! I'll say this though, they do have a tendency to come one at a time. Perhaps the Americans have built a complex of them, in which case I would expect the Americans to be the biggest as I have not seen such a thing here, I'll check that too.

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