In sports we are always looking for the next. The next Jordan, the next champion, even the next sport.
Here are 10 "futuristic" sports that are guaranteed to be banished to the scrap heap of history.
#1 Jai Alai
Jai alai is a game that originated in the Basque region of Spain four centuries ago. Yet despite being around all those years, jai alai players and fans have insisted that their sport is the next one to break through to the big time. Just imagine these people as kind of like lacrosse douchebags who speak Spanish. (But not the lacrosse douchebags who can curse in Spanish to the Mexican nanny their parents hired to raise them.)
In jai alai a ball (“pelota”) is hurled through the air by a sort of long, curved, wicker basket (“cesta”) and you get points if the other team doesn’t catch the pelota. Or something. (“Es muy stupido.”)
But the ball travels at incredibly high speeds, in upwards of 150 mph, which is the main reason jai alai fanatics believe there is such a bright future for the sport. You know, ‘cause modern people love speed! Yep. Jai alai could be as popular as tennis, only if you can’t see the tennis ball. RATINGS GOLD!
And what parent wouldn’t want to sign their kid up for youth jai alai? Ducking a ball flying 150 mph at your head builds character! As does coming out of a coma after suffering a skull fracture.
#2 Space Sports
Remember how we were all going to live in space or at least travel there regularly? Well, that may still happen, just not on the same schedule as bad ‘80s movies had us believe. And while we wait to go, space travel sites like SpaceFuture.com have been imagining what space sports will be like.
We’re talking “zero-G versions of existing terrestrial sports, such as table-tennis, badminton, tennis, and even basketball.” Whoa?
They’ve also thought of entirely new sports: “A zero-gravity ‘water-room’ with some large ‘blobs’ of water which you can throw at each other, or through which you can dive, will provide a lot of unique entertainment.” So, like, a water balloon fight … IN SPACE!
Whatever happens, if we have space sports, let's agree to limit basketball and soccer to Americans only. Imagine how easily Space Ginobilis would dive and flop in zero gravity.
As for growth, though, MLG will never draw large crowds or big TV ratings. Think about it. If you feel lazy and unproductive after playing video games, imagine how you’d feel after watching people play video games. The average sports fan simply has no interest in engaging with such a boring sport. That's like thinking people would sit around and watch other people play poker. Ridiculous!
#4 – Robot Sports
Robot technology, like space travel, has been slow to reach the expectations we had for it a few decades ago. By now I was fully expecting to have my robot drive me in my flying car to sporting events. But I’m still relegated to the city bus. Just look at how awful robot soccer is:
If robot technology advances a hundred years and these matches include lasers and explosions and maybe even scantily-armored robot cheerleaders, sure, then we can talk. But for now, if we want to watch incredibly slow and stilted sports, the Big Ten conference works just fine.
#5 – Quidditch
“A fictional sport? Of course that’s not a sport of the future!” Au contraire! Because Harry Potter fans have taken the broom-flying sport and made a terrestrial version that non-magicians can play. And it’s growing across the country and the world.
Could quidditch really catch on? Well, the best-selling Harry Potter book sold 44 million copies. That’s a lot more sales than the next highest-selling nerd book series, Baseball Prospectus. So there’s a huge, built-in market. The question is: would quidditch last when non-Harry Potter fans picked up the sport? You know, like people who can actually run and jump and don’t have to call timeout to adjust their glasses?
Chances are that when the jocks moved in, the nerds would move on. And sorry, nerds, but we're not going to consider LARPing a sport.
#6 – Arena Football / Arena Anything
If a sport considers itself to be a “sport of the future” it, by definition, is not much of a sport of the present. And the Arena Football League definitely meets that criteria, so much so that after 22 years in business, it shut down for a year in 2009.
Various arena soccer leagues come and go, too, dutifully proving that Americans won’t necessarily like soccer if it becomes more high-scoring. In fact, all sports are worse in an arena. NFL and college football suck in a dome, as does baseball. Even the NHL gets its best ratings for its annual outdoor game. And maybe Lebron James will take the NBA outside now that he’s in Miami in the winter instead of Cleveland.
The most damning aspect for the future of arena sports?
Jon Bon Jovi’s involvement …
#9 Solar-Powered Car Racing
SportsPickle is as green as the next site. More so even. Literally. But solar-powered car racing is incredibly stupid. Solar-powered cars can't travel as fast, so it would be like those awful, slow-speed NASCAR races that use restrictor plates only without all the noise and the lovable redneck personalities (as there ain't no redneck getting in no pussified solar-powered car!).
Worst of all, solar-powered cars are covered in solar panels. Where's the room for all of the sponsor logos? That leaves no way for a racing team to support itself. And no way for America to learn about such fine products as Boudreau's Butt Paste.
#10 Competitive Eating
Perhaps no "sport" has grown more in recent years that competitive eating. Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut are legitimate stars. Kobayashi has even been arrested just like a real sports star! And competitive eating has been expanded far beyond Coney Island and hot dogs to cities and towns across the country and to every kind of food you can imagine.
But as the American public grows ever fatter, how much entertainment value can competitive eating really maintain? Joey Chestnut won the 2010 Nathan's hot dog eating contest by eating 54 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Impressive? Not really. I was at a diner this weekend and saw a guy eat 20 hot dogs in 5 minutes and he wasn't even competing. Which I knew because he also had 16 orders of fries.