Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Pelota (in Basque and Catalan, pilota; in French pelote, from Latin pila) is a name for a variety of court sports played with a ball using one's hand, a racket, a wooden bat (pala), or a basket propulsor, against a wall (frontón in Spanish, frontoi in Basque, frontó in Catalan) or, more traditionally, with two teams face to face separated by a line on the ground or a net. Their roots can be traced to the Greek and other ancient cultures, but in Europe they all derive from real tennis (see Jeu de Paume). Today, pelota is widely played in several countries: in the Basque Country and their neighbours; in Valencia where it is considered the national sport; and in rural areas of Ireland, Belgium, North of Italy, Mexico, Argentina and other American countries.
Recently, some initiatives have organised pelota championships trying to unify the different modalities played all around the world, in order to standardise them into two or three simpler modalities, with fixed ball weights, rules and court sizes. There are, of course, criticisms on this, since the original traits of each particular modality would be lost. The matches between Basque and Valencian teams have always been the most leveled ones, due to the quality and versatility of their players.
The most characteristic trait of Basque pelota is that it is played against a wall (frontón in Spanish, frontoi in Basque). There are modalities played with the bare hand or with a wooden bat (pala), or a basket propulsor (cesta), the latter being very famous in Florida as the jai alai modality.
To foreign spectators, it may appear as squash in a larger court.
The most characteristic trait of Valencian pilota is that it is always played with the bare hand (with some minimal protections) and it is not generally played against a wall. Instead, as the ancient Greeks played it and modern tennis is played, two individuals or teams are placed face to face separated by a line on the ground or a net. Another relevant and funny trait of Valencian pilota is that the spectators can be seated in several parts of the playing ground and they frequently suffer from impacts as the match develops.
Valencian pilota can be played in the streets or in special courts, known as trinquete (trinquet in Catalan), which can be quite different in size and form. There are many different modalities, the most frequently played are escala i corda, raspall, galotxa and llargues.
Spectators of Valencian pilota can also bet on one of the two sides, and the trinquets and the marxador get a commission of these bets.
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