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THE BALL GAME
The ball game, which was a common activity of all Mesoamerican peoples and originated about 3,000 B.C., had a ritualistic function for the ancient Maya.
Two teams (the number of players depended on the region where the game was played) faced off on courts whose measurements could vary. The Ball Court at Chichen Itza, Mexico, measures 140 by 35 meters, and is the largest in the Mundo Maya.
Most ball courts had two sloping parallel walls inset with three round disks called markers or a single stone ring, at right angles to the ground. The players scored by touching the markers or passing the ballwhich was 50 centimeters in diameter and weighed more than a kilothrough the rings. But the markers or rings were positioned several meters above the ground, and the players could only touch the ball with their elbows, knees or hips. Scoring was considered such a feat that it usually ended the game.