Each Maya city had at least one huge ball court similar
to the stadiums we have today. Tiers
of bleacher seating surrounded each open air ball court. Ball courts and
the games played within them were important to the Maya people. Games
were always played during the religious festivals held every 20 days. But
there were other games held as well. Each time a game was played in a
nearby city, people poured in from the surrounding areas to attend.
the Gods: Ball courts were usually positioned
at the foot of a temple. Ball games had religious meanings. Games were
played to honor the Hero Twins and other Maya gods and goddesses.
Game: Courts had
a large playing area. There was a stone hoop mounted in the wall at one
end. The Mayas used the ball courts to play a ball game they called
pok-a-tok. It was a very rough sport.
Pok-a-tok is a mix of
soccer, basketball, and kick ball.
It was played with a solid hard rubber ball. You could not hit
the ball with your hands. It had to be hit with the hips, shoulders, or
arms. The object of the game was to hit the rubber ball through the
stone ring that was attached to the wall at one end of the court. Ball
players wore protective clothing when playing.
When playing games among themselves, or against other Maya cities, the
winning team got to keep the jewelry of the losing team.
Some games were played with captives, people
from other Indian tribes that Maya warriors had captured. These games
were of great interest to the Maya people. Poorly
fed, exhausted, beaten captives made up one team, and professional Maya
ball players made up the other. The beaten captives always lost these
games. After they lost, they were sacrificed.