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Saturday, July 25, 2009


I was watching Slamball on Cartoon Network when the idea of how sports would develop came to me. When you look at recent developments in sports, you will notice a greater emphasis on the drama of the sport. While this originally manifested itself as the traditional sports becoming more violent because of the lowering values of the players in the mid to late 90's (mostly due to steroid abuse), a growing trend in seeing more action-oriented sports has been developing.

Football is still big because it is already an extreme sport in some ways, but extreme sports of the kind I am thinking of is more along the lines of so-called Pro Wrestling. When you look around at the games that are beginning to develop, (though first starting with Pro Wrestling, the movement seemed to take off with American Gladiator and manifesting most recently with Slamball) you see that there is a growing interest in more dramatic sports. While the bloodthirsty cretins thrill off of the once illegal cage fighting, those with less bloodlust enjoy the more spectacular acrobatics and defiance of gravity.

With this in mind, I think the movement toward these kinds of sports is gaining momentum and may one day religate the previous sports to the analogs of history. While football is currently still the top sport, it may have to evolve in order to stay at the head of the pack, especially with sports like Pro Wrestling beginning to steal the limelight. Baseball is already on the decline, no longer able to keep up with modern media and the public's need for more excitement in an evermore desensitized age. Movies and television are most certainly responsible for this jaded age, and to keep up, sports must constantly grow more exciting to compete with the abundance of visual entertainment.

Of course, there is a point at which you can't make any of it more exciting without entirely loosing the point of the sport. Case in point is once again Pro Wrestling. In order to reach the extreme, pro wrestling could not simply keep it to pin holds, but going to brutality could not go unchecked. The compromise is a sport that has become more about acrobatics, endurance, and showmanship than about actually wrestling. They pull their punches, fall in such ways that no permanent damage is usually done, and practice all their moves through the week to make sure they don't hurt their opponent, who they're likely friends with off stage. Yes, they occasionally break bones and draw blood, but all for the show that draws the audience. Since when does it take ten seconds to set up a fighting move? But that is to give the opponent time to recover and prepare for the next action that is being clearly broadcast to the opponent before it happens. My point in identifying these things in pro wrestling is to show the direction that other sports could head in when reaching the extremes of the drama and spectacle. There is the point at which it is no longer a sport and simply a showy acrobatic display.

So how can the sport remain a sport while playing up the showmanship? By giving points for showmanship or style. It can encourage showmanship without making the sport fake, as each team will still be seeking to get more points. If the showmanship gets fewer points and only in association with attempts to accomplish the goal, then you can get a good mix of the two and maintain interest as well as keeping it sporty.

That said, this is the goal of the sports I will be presenting in my Futuresports article. They will take advantage of the advances of science and showmanship, creating a feel that it is in the future, being impossible to do or make money from by modern capabilities.

So what else will my article provide? Well, the article is a roleplaying game article, so it will involve how to incorporate sports into a campaign, whether as a one-shot or as the campaign focus. This could be tricky, but thankfully, there have been several movies and anime programs that have highlighted future sports and the real life drama that could affect them, as well as we have seen many examples of scandals surrounding those events, such as Tonya Harding sending her boyfriend to break her teammate, Nancy Kerrigan's knee in an act of despiration or the infamous throwing fights so common in the boxing industry. Besides those, the team could be famous for their adventures outside the sports arena, chasing down badguys or fighting against the dictatorship.

All in all it's shaping up to be a good article. The mechanics are going to be the trick. I think that a physical actions list, operating similar to d20's talents, may be the only way to express the showy aspect. Because if you just roll some dice for whether you hit a ball or not, it will be pretty boring and uneventful, but if you have a mechanic describing the actions, then it becomes more exciting. Like my robots article, this article is getting longer than I originally expected, but that's fine by me as long as I maintain interest. Besides this, I will also be doing several future sports images to accompany it. I've already drawn one which I like very much and I am already inspired to do more. I will also have to draw up some arena specks when I do the individual articles for each sport.

It's ironic that I should be the one to write such an article seeing as I've never been particularly interested in sports, especially not enough to remember player stats or hold a lengthy sports conversation. But like anyone, I like action, and to me, the best sports are all action all the time. Though I despise pro wrestling and especially cage fighting for the violence they have unleashed upon the world's youth. They say "Don't try this at home. Those performing these feats of daring are professionals." But the first thing that children do is try to immitate it. I've been DDT'd (my first experience with pro wrestling when I was 12) and I've seen and been affected by other wrestling moves demonstrated by children in public. For this reason I trained myself how to fight so I wouldn't be a victim again. But that's neither here nor there. The irony is in my introducing such mechanics into a game I would like to play.

All said, the article should be a good read and if just one play group should give its mechanics a try, then I will consider it a success.

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