Researchers say there are over 1,300 ballcourts that have been identified, with 60 percent of those being discovered in just the last 20 years. Many of those were practice ballcourts where people would come to play for fun or hone their skills. The main ball courts had enough space for everyone in the area to come watch and observe.
The game brought out the best in the best of athletes in the area. Men would constantly practice and compete to become the top player. Top players were given the honor of being sacrificed to the gods in order to help save the nation from the severe drought that was threatening their crops and livelihood.
From there, the “winners” would be taken deep into the caves, where the gods were said to live, and were sacrificed. The ATM cave is one such place. Visitors can still visit and see the bones of sacrificed Mayans.