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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ultimate Geek Fu

Future Sports

Our species seems to be hardwired for sports. Give a child something like a ball and he'll try to see how far he can throw or kick it; give another child something like a stick and she'll try to see what she can hit with it, starting with her brothers but eventually moving on to something like a ball. Put two kids together and give them free time and some freedom from the fear of being eaten by lions and they'll invent a game; put three together and they'll not only invent a game, but one will appoint him- or herself the ultimate arbiter of the rules of that game. It may start with the most primitive and universal of childish play, but in time it invariably seem to leads to an Abner Doubleday codifying the rules of baseball or a James Naismith nailing a peach basket to the wall and inventing basketball. Sports are not merely big business and something to fill the empty Sunday afternoon TV schedule as we wend our way towards the long dark teatime of the soul; the instinct to compete physically in some controlled and formalized way would seem to be embedded in our very genes.

So why is there so little of it in fantastic fiction?

I mean really, Rollerball, and that's about it. Beyond that you get robots playing football, or humans playing football while wearing funny suits and using a chrome football, or once in a very rare while an excessively bizarre and nonsensical game like quidditch or 43-Man Squamish. But beyond that, we always seem to end up coming back around to quasi-gladitorial bloodsports.

Is it really that difficult to imagine that future humans will be just as inventive as we are when it comes to finding ways to waste time and burn off surplus energy without killing each other? Or is this just further evidence that writers in general are tubby plods who aren't much for joining teams and never get off their butts and exercise?

Ergo, today's questions: what's the coolest sport you've ever seen depicted in fantastic fiction? What's the stupidest? And what's the one that made you sit up and think, "Boy, that writer must have really hated the jocks in high school!"

Let the arguments begin.

ULTIMAGE GEEK FU runs every Wednesday. Have a question that's just bugging the heck out of you about Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Battlestar Gallactica, Farscape, Firefly, Fringe, Heroes, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Smallville, The X-Files, X-Men, The Man From Atlantis, or pretty much any other SF-flavored media property? Send it to slushpile@thefridaychallenge.com with the subject line, "Geek Fu," and we'll stuff it in the queue.
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