Theodore Roosevelt (18581919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.
Well, these Parecís Indians enthusiastically play football with their heads. The game is not only native to them, but I have never heard or read of its being played by any other tribe or people. They use a light hollow rubber ball, of their own manufacture. It is circular and about eight inches in diameter. The players are divided into two sides, and stationed much as in association football, and the ball is placed on the ground to be put in play as in football. Then a player runs forward, throws himself flat on the ground, and butts the ball toward the opposite side. This first butt, when the ball is on the ground, never lifts it much and it rolls and bounds toward the opponents. One or two of the latter run toward it; one throws himself flat on his face and butts the ball back. Usually this butt lifts it, and it flies back in a curve well up in the air; and an opposite player, rushing toward it, catches it on his head with such a swing of his brawny neck, and such precision and address that the ball bounds back through the air as a football soars after a drop-kick. If the ball flies off to one side or the other it is brought back, and again put in play. Often it will be sent to and fro a dozen times, from head to head, until finally it rises with such a sweep that it passes far over the heads of the opposite players and descends behind them. Then shrill, rolling cries of good-humored triumph arise from the victors; and the game instantly begins again with fresh zest. There are, of course, no such rules as in a specialized ball-game of civilization; and I saw no disputes. There may be eight or ten, or many more, players on each side. The ball is never touched with the hands or feet, or with anything except