For much of the 20th century, jai alai dominated the Miami sports scene, attracting crowds as large as 15,000. Today, the sport is barely hanging on in America.So what happened? Well, it’s a wild story, one involving gangs, organized crime and murder.
source/image: Great Big Story
We caught up with decorated jai alai athletes Benny Bueno and Leon Shepard to get the scoop on the meteoric rise and subsequent fall of America’s forgotten sport.Often called the “fastest sport in the world,” because of the speed of the ball.
The sport once held the world record for ball speed with a 125–140 g ball covered with goatskin that traveled at 302 km/hJust when the game was set to explode into the mainstream in the late 1980s and early ’90s, the players went on strike.
Inferior part-timers were brought in during the strike, but the buzz surrounding the game was not the same. By the time things got back on track, jai alai was back to being a niche sport that had little mainstream buzz.Also, despite being a great live spectator sport, jai alai is not very TV-friendly.