Why did the ancient Maya and Aztec play brutal ball games?

As far back as 1400 B.C., people in Mexico and Central America suited up in painted deerskins and elaborate head-dresses and sprinted across ball courts covered with stone to volley a primitive rubber ball with their hips, knees, shins, elbows, and heads. Many of the ball courts remain today, some with stone rings that may have acted as goals, but the rules to these games have been lost to history. Weighing as much as nine pounds (4 kg), the solid-rubber balls left players bruised and bloody. Games sometimes resulted in broken bones and even death as players dove to the stone court to keep the ball from touching the ground. The ancient athletes played for religious reasons. The games were thought to represent the battle of good against evil. Some games may have ended in sacrificial rituals to appease the gods. A modern version of the ball games –called ulama – is still played today.


Picture Credit : Google