For the Maya, the ballgame was based on their creation story called the
Popol Vuh. This legend set the stage for the cycle of life, death and
rebirth that was central to Mayan everyday life - and the ballgame.
The first ballplayers are created:
The gods who created the earth and its inhabitants were also ballplayers.
The gods had some difficulty making humans, but finally achieved success
with two brothers, Hun Hunahpu and Vucub Hunahpu. Like their creators,
the brothers loved to play ball. They played so often that the bouncing
rubber ball disturbed the gods who lived in the Underworld of Xibalba.
To stop the noisy ballplayers, the Lords of Xibalba decided to trap the
brothers. They invited Hun Hunahpu and Vucub Hunahpu to a game. The boys
were killed and buried in the ballcourt. As a final insult, the head of
Hun Hunahpu was displayed in a tree.
When an Underworld goddess named Xquic approached the tree, the head of
Hun Hunahpu spat in her hand. She became pregnant, and was forced to leave
the Underworld. Now living on earth, Xquic gave birth to twins who she
named Hunahpu and Xbalanque.
Half-god and half-human, the twins grew into greater ballplayers than
their fathers, once again disturbing the Lords of Xibalba. The angry Lords
made several attempts to trick and kill the twins, but the boys escaped
every time. The twins recover the bodies of their father and uncle, placing
them in the sky as the sun and the moon. Hunahpu and Xbalanque become
known as the Hero Twins, the greatest ballplayers in Mesoamerican history.