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Ball Game

What was the purpose of the game?

The Mesoamerican invented a ball game
that not a lot of people know about. Some
might assume it was just for fun like the
games we play today, but was it?

Here is the game in action: https://www.

The Rules
We dont know the exact rules of the Ball Game. This game spread to quite a few
different cultures and each culture had distinct rules, along with various periods of time.
The point of the game was to hit a solid, rubber ball into a cement ring without it touching
your hands or feet. The cement ring was placed on a cement wall, vertically, unlike a
basketball hoop. In some cultures you were allowed to have either one to three or one to
four players. Also, only men were allowed to participate. They were only allowed to hit
the ball with their elbows, knees or shoulders. Or in other cultures they could only use
their hips and thighs. The men were allowed to wear padding so when the ball hit them,
it wouldnt injure them as bad. Because it was so difficult to get the ball into such a small
ring, the game usually lasted for a very long time. Therefore, when one of the teams hit
the ball through the ring, the game ended. Or it ended if the ball touched the ground.
Whichever team won would be considered as heroes and would be rewarded with a
large feast. However, the losing team would be killed.

Religious significance
The Aztecs believed that the ball court represented the court of the underworld,
mirroring the court in the heavens. The game represented the battle between day
and night or sun and moon. Human sacrifices were often made to keep the sun
moving through the sky and to please the gods. The ball represented the head of
a human that had been sacrificed and it was considered an honor to be sacrificed.
Sometimes the coach of the losing team or the entire team would be sacrificed
and sometimes the winning team would be sacrificed depending on how well they
Aztec - history,
The ball game of mesoamerica,

Gambling played a large part in the culture surrounding the ballgame. People
could bet almost anything on the team they thought would win. Some would bet
material things like beautiful feathers and other prized possessions while others
bet land, children, or even their own lives. Sometimes, the losers would sell
themselves into slavery so they could pay off their debt. In some cases it took
people years of working at a job they didnt like before their debts were paid off.
Once in awhile, city states would play the ballgame instead of going to war with
each other. The city state whose team won the game would rule over the losing
one. Winning or losing a game could turn into an excuse to start an attack or try an

While nearly everyone does today, the mesoamericans were the first people known
to have used rubber, getting the pure latex from rubber trees and mixing it with other
properties like the morning glory vine which helped make the rubber more durable
and bouncy. This was ideal for making the balls used for this sport, which were made
mostly out of rubber but are speculated to sometimes have human skulls of previous
losers inside. The ball measured from 10 to 30 centimetres in diameter, and weighed
up to 10 lbs. It could easily break bones, and if the ball hit someones head, they
would be killed.. They found that with different mixtures of the latex and morning
glory plant that they could create rubber with different properties, eg; 50-50 creates
maximum bounciness where a 75-25 mix would make the most durable material .
National Geographic
Rainforest Alliance's/species-profiles/rubber-tree

So what was the purpose?

The game served as a substitute for wars,
it had a big significance in their religion
and it was a good pastime. It was also a
deciding factor for human sacrifice and a
form of entertainment.