Resurrecting an ancient Mesoamerican sport

In this BBC Reel, they look at the resurgence of a Mayan ball sport, called Juego de Pelota, which is approximately 3,000 years old. It was played by the Maya, the Aztecs, and the Inca. The soccer-like game is played using only the hips and with a solid rubber ball that weighs about 7 pounds. But as the ball contacts the hips, it can apply as much as 14 pounds of force.

Juego de Pelota is a sacred game with rituals surrounding it. Players dress in costumes representing constellations in the sky, the elements, and the sun and earth. It was because of these ritual practices around the game that it was deemed "demonic" by the invading/occupying Spaniards and outlawed. Juego de Pelota has only made a real comeback in the 21st century, thanks to the Mesoamerican Ballgame Association.

Thumbnail Image: Daniel Schwen, CC BY-SA 4.0.