FARMINGTON — Navajo Nation politicians got game.

In a grueling, close basketball match, the Navajo Nation legislative branch beat their executive counterparts 56-52 at the Window Rock Sports Center in Window Rock Tuesday evening.

The game was complete with misses shots, fouls and steals, terms not unheard in the players' usual game of politics. On Tueday, though, the missed shots, fouls and steals were a little less personal.

Teams consisted of everyone from Navajo Nation Council delagates to Miss Navajo Nation to many of the tribe's program coordinators and employees. Most of them wore sneakers, t-shirts and sweat pants or shorts.

President Ben Shelly did not participate in the game, nor did Vice President Rex Lee Jim.

"Oops, we got some skinned knees," said Flora Benn, audio/visual technician at the Navajo Nation Office of Broadcast Services, as players struggled to keep track of the ball.

Benn emceed the event, which was broadcast with the help of the Navajo Nation Department of Information Technology.

The game aired on the Navajo Nation Council's UStream site, a website with live and recorded video. About 20 people watched the game live on the UStream channel, at least another 100 watched the recording.

The game took place after the second day of the council's winter session, which lasts through Friday.

The legislative team led the game the majority of the time, but executive was never very far behind.


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"It was just a challenge to the executive branch, a night just to come out to exercise, and have a little fun," said Roscoe Smith, a council delegate and game referee.

"Everything at times is serious," Smith said. "But here it's just to be able to let a little steam off and enjoy the night."

More than a dozen Navajo Nation officials played during the game.

"Basketball has been an activity our people have engaged in for decades now and a lot of our youth are very talented athletes in the sport," said Jonathan Nez, a council delegate who played for the legislative team.

Nez, who lost 100 pounds last year through exercise and diet, said the game also set a healthy example for the people.

"Stress levels are elevated and this good-spirited game between two of the branches of Navajo government fosters both camaraderie and personal health," said Nez.