Choctaw take pride in stickball – ‘the granddaddy of all American sports’

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The roots of stickball run deep in Choctaw culture. The fiercely competitive game – played long before there was football, baseball and basketball – is played with sticks and a small orange ball. Mississippi Today photographer Eric J. Shelton captured the action from the World Series of Stickball, played annually at the Choctaw Indian Fair, near Philadelphia, in this slideshow.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Trey Ben watches as his team competes in the World Series of Stickball during the Choctaw Indian Fair at Choctaw Central High School Wednesday, July 11, 2018. The commissioner of the World Series of Stickball calls it “the granddaddy of all American Sports.”

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

A player is tackled during the World Series of Stickball during the Choctaw Indian Fair at Choctaw Central High School Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Fans watch as teams compete during the Choctaw Indian Fair at Choctaw Central High School Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Pearl River huddles between quarters during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Mario Chickaway, 28, gets help from paramedics after suffering from a broken femur during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Players kneel after Mario Chickaway, 28, was injured during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Teams compete during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Drummers play during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

A player rests on the sideline during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Teenagers compete during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

A player is tackled during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Players reach for the ball during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Players share a laugh during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Teenagers compete during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

A drummer takes a rest between quarters during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Teenagers compete during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

A player is tackled during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

A drum is seen on the sideline during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Teenagers compete during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Canaan Tubby picks up his sticks after competing in the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Adult players attempt to score a goal during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Teams compete during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Pearl River community and Koni Hata community teams congratulate each other during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Pearl River players share a laugh after their victory against Koni Hata during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Pearl River community celebrate their victory against Koni Hata during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Pearl River community and Koni Hata community teams congratulate each other during the World Series of Stickball at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw Wednesday, July 11, 2018.