A T-shaped court. Two teams. A bruisingly hard rubber ball. An impossibly small vertical hoop. The game is played in towns and cities across the world of Xeno-Meso. While other sports exist in the Sixth World, including wrestling, boxing, and ritual combat, the ball game is the most popular sport among all classes and peoples.
In the olden times, the losing team in a game could be sacrificed. The Olmeca brought about an end to that practice, considering it ignoble and unsporting. Today, communities form teams to represent themselves in competitions that cross cities and span nations. The most successful teams go on to compete with those of other states.
Each year, a series of finals is held in one of the Mayan cities; this series of contests chooses the best team among all the contending states and communities. A great deal of wealth is expended in the competition to host these games, and the Olmeca arbiters grow ever wealthier from the many offerings and bribes taken from the contending Mayan lords for the right to host the games.
Today, the many ball teams and their athletes are the celebrities of the Sixth World. Teams play against each other for the prestige of their communities, for wealth, and their choice of mates. While among the Olmeca and the Maya teams are composed exclusively of men, among the more egalitarian folk of the great city of Xochiquetzatlan, the women's teams are even more popular than the men's.
Typically, when Xochiquetzatlani teams play in Olmeca and Maya lands, gender mixed teams are sent. While this always causes some scandal among the Olmeca and Maya, they have grown to respect the Xochiquetzatlani teams; they are quite competitive, even with the all-male teams of the other states.