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Mesoamerican-ball-game

Modern reproduction of the ancient Mesoamerican ball game

The Mesoamerican ball game was a sport practiced by ancient Pre-Columbian cultures of Central America.
More than 3000 years ago The Mesoamerican ball game was very popular, the Maya called it pitsl, the Aztec name was ullamaliztl, but the game is the same.
This game was played with heavy rubber balls in open ended ball courts of different size with two vertical stone rings, one for each side of the court.
The aim of the game was to pass the ball in the stone goal and score the point.
We don’t know exactly the rules of this anciet game, but we know that Mesoamerican ball game could be really violent. In fact some games were played just for fun and recreation, some others were part of a ritual involving human sacrifice; for this occasions the game was played in Huge ball courts by two team of captives and the losers were sacrificed in a mystic/religious ritual.
The importance of the Mesoamerican ball game in ancient Pre-Columbian society is proved by  all the diufferent use this game by the Maya: the ball game was used as a recreational sport, as part of a spiritual ritual and as well to solve the disputes among tribes and prevent the warfare.

A Maya mural found in El Tajin, showing the sacrifice of a ballplayer.

Sometimes head of tribes play (but was more like a fight) the ball game to re-establish tribes hierarchy, and impose supremacy; this game was so important because it was like a social conflicts relief valve, it was a place where the disputes could be solved with a ball game match instead of a battle.
Probably the spiritual symbolism behind the ball game is the reason of the human sacrifices: the bal represents the sun and the scoring rings the sunrise; the solar movement is tied on fertility and the sacrifice of the player is the ritual of the death and the reborn of the sun. The game was a battle between day and night, born and death, life and the underworld.

This video is a modern reproduction of the ancient Mesoamerican ball game and of the Maya ball game rituals

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Indians_playingGames where invented and developed both in ancient and modern cultures.

In Indian tribes, games were a moment of confrontation and groups dynamics relationships were stimulated by game’s competitions. In ancient cultures, games where a moment of leisure and intense social activity, the tribe played collectively during special events like holy days or harvest festivals. In western modern cultures, board games become more and more part of the private sphere of the human relationships; people played them whit their restrict circle of friends or with their relatives, but like old tribal times, in the modern world board games are also played a lot during festivities like Christmas or Easter: this seems like a old tribal heritage.
Indians, for example, liked gambling and had as a mystic and fierce conception of the war, for this reason Slahal, a board game made in wood and bones, is one of the best war and gambling game ever invented by tribal ethnic groups.
Slahal is all about instinct and intuition and even luck: Two teams play each one with two set of bones one and the players have to guess right on the kind of bones (or sticks) hided in the hands of the direct opponent. If your guess is right you gain points while spectators or other contestants can gamble on each turn.
Native Americans where great with sports too, Lacrosse, the popular sport in USA is consider to be played by Indians for centuries: it was played like a transitional ritual to transform young boys in strong and mature men, and it was deeply connected with religion, Indians used to call it “The Creator’s Game”.
Now Lacrosse is still way to prove the young boys strength, in fact is played Lacrosse school and colleges across all the USA, especially in California, where Indians heritage and roots are strong.
If you good at Lacrosse in your school in USA in general you are well considered in your school and among your friends, so we can say that sports and games can change names, aspects and even rules during the years and among different cultures, but they still maintain, even if in different ways, their important function of social acceptance and their capability of shaping humans abilities and virtues.

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