"Pearl Ball" Popular Chinese Sport

"Pearl Ball" Popular Chinese Sport

Pearl ball is most akin to basketball except the net moves. Players hold rackets to defend against the ball while others try to get it into a hand-held net. Participants generally wear basketball-style uniforms.

The sport originated as a symbolic representation of pearl diving done in the rivers of Manchuria during imperial China. The news magazine China Human Rights states oyster divers would fill a pig's bladder full of pearls and play a ball game with it to relax after a long day picking oysters for pearls. Even the modern ball for the sport has beads inside to simulate pearls inside a pig's bladder.

Traditional names for the sport are somewhat different. Pearl ball has been called pearl kicking, pearl picking or pearl tossing in its varied forms. It wasn't until the rules were standardized that pearl ball became a recognized sport in China. Officials are trying to start a nationwide league for the sport if there is enough interest.

The Chinese Olympic Committee recognizes pearl ball as an official sport in China. It still has a way to go before the Summer Olympics will showcase the ethnic sport on the world stage. If the national league goes well in China, sports fans may see pearl ball's popularity increase.

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