The favorite sport among the ancient Mayans was a ball game played on a large field. Rings were mounted on the walls surrounding the field and it is speculated that the game ended when a player on one of the teams got the ball to go through one of the rings.
The game consisted of two teams with seven players each, although the number of the team members varied slightly in different areas. One member of each team was the captain.
At the end of the game, one of the captains was sacrificed by beheading. Archeologists are conflicted over whether it was the winning captain or the loosing captain who was sacrificed.
Some argue that the winning captain was decapitated because, as the prize for winning, he had the privilege of offering his life on behalf of humanity.
Others argue that the winning captain had the privilege of decapiting the captain of the loosing team.
Either way, the spectactators were treated to a good old-fashioned beheading of one of the captains by the other captain, no matter which team won.
Carvings and etchings associated with the games depict human skulls, the symbol of death.
When we were in Chichen Itza several years ago we saw one of the actual fields where this game was played!
NOTE: have corrected spelling of Decapitated and spectators!