| Today, dozens of colorful macaws live among the ruins. * * *|
Priests also refereed at the magnificent ball court at Copan, and speeded many a fine jock to his early demise. No one is sure how the game was played or how many people were on a team or what the substitution rules were, but its assumed that the game was a brutal mishmash of soccer and court tennis, and that no hands could be used. The ballspeculated to be a 15-inch solid rubber orb, which had to be kept in playwas bounced off slanted walls, and couldnt touch the ground. To score, the ball had to hit one of the stone macaws mounted high up in the corners of the courtthe equivalent of crossing a goal line or sinking a basket. To stand in the court today and imagine the scene is to conjure up what must have been a bloody afternoon of top Mayan athletes in peak physical condition, bashing a solid ball around with their shoulders, heads, elbows, and knees until the game was done. I like to imagine that there also were guys selling fajitas, chips, frijoles, and cervezas, and gymnasts decked out as cheerleading chickens and _cucarachas_ dancing on the sidelinesjust like pro ball in the Statesbut I doubt it. This was serious business, life and death.