No doubt Oscar Pistorius’s unprecedented entry and run in the Olympics this weekend will go down as a highlight of these games. The first person to bridge the Summer Olympics and the Paralympics, clad in neither bionic nor cyborg prosthetics but walking “blades” certified to give no advantage to him against other runners, South African runner Pistorius gave a competitive go of it in his 440 meter semi-final track event. Truly he’s an inspiration to everyone, disabled or not.
So in honor of the closest person we’ve found to a real-life borg Olympian, we are presenting this list of the ten most interesting sci-fi or fantasy sports we’d like to see in a future Olympics. In whittling down this list we have eliminated motor sports or the like, so no pod racing or light cycle races (but we’ll make an exception for broomsticks). We also found far too many gladiator events in classic sci-fi, going back to the original Star Trek’s “Gamesters of Triskelion” and “Bread and Circuses” battles to Star Trek Voyager’s Seven of Nine vs. The Rock arena combat called Tsunkatse, to the combat in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, which continues on this year in genre shows like Bo’s battle to the death in Lost Girl. So we’ll skip those for this round. Most of our games reflect a possible evolution of today’s games and come from sci-fi TV or movies, but we just had to throw some fantasy events into the mix for good measure. So here goes:
Updating who knows what Olympic sports–Parrises squares (Star Trek: The Next Generation). A future J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot movie sequel really could do some good by showing us an actual Parrises squares match. The often celebrated Star Trek universe game has been played by everyone from Tasha Yar to the EMH’s daughter on Voyager (who sadly, dies from a Parisses squares injury). But all we have seen are the uniforms. This barely makes our cut because we simply haven’t seen the game in action yet, yet the possibilities from what we’ve heard from Star Trek characters is enough to make it to the list.
Updating taekwondo and judo–Bat’leth and Mok’bara (Star Trek: The Next Generation). In the episode “Parallels,” Worf returns to the Enterprise from a bat’leth tournament. Part of the plot revolves around whether he scored first or ninth place in the games. He even has a nice trophy to show for it:
Mok’bara was Worf’s version of taekwondo, an elegant art of movement for the Klingon set. Both of these are future martial arts we’d like to see added to the Olympic slate.
Updating fencing–Lightsaber dueling (Star Wars). Ben Kenobi showed Luke he could practice his saber work without anyone getting hurt. You can even perfect your skills with a floating spherical sparring partner. Fencing uses foils, sabers or epees. Maybe lightsabers can be set to “stun”? I can’t think of a more elegant sport for a civilized age.
Updating fencing, judo and taekwondo–Anbo-jyutsu (Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek Voyager). We’ve only seen this played by Will Riker and his dad and B’Elanna Torres and Kes, but that was all we needed. Cool uniforms and football-type padded gear, these guys really play hard.
Updating basketball—Pyramid/Triad (Battlestar Galactica), and Serenity basketball (Firefly). Less elegant than martial art competitions, street sports like Pyramid/Triad and “Serenity basketball” (played in the episode “Bushwhacked”) allow everyone to get into the act with little upfront cost to play. Even when the end of the world just happened, you can assemble a pick-up game of Pyramid, even on board a starship like the Galactica.
Serenity basketball seems to have less clear rules, but we’re sure it can factor in to a future Olympic event.
Updating hockey—Rollerball (Rollerball). The game itself really sold the movie. Maybe we were cheering for James Caan because we still saw him as Brian Piccolo playing alongside Gail Sayers in Brian’s Song. Nah… he’s just cool in everything. What an intense action sport Rollerball would be in real life, and so much fun to watch in-person. (And yes, we allowed this sport on our list even though they use motorcycles).
Updating triathlon, skiing and shooting—James Bond skiing (The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, The World is Not Enough, with nods to Arnie in True Lies). Good luck making it down the black diamond while someone is trying to throw you off balance. We’d substitute blanks for bullets so our athletes can come back for more. We saw a bit of this in an old Chevy Chase Saturday Night Live skit with the Olympics and Claudine Longet. Not a lot of Olympic sports add the element of surprise like this “sport” could.
Updating discus–Identity discs (Tron, Tron: Legacy, and Tron: Uprising). Think discus but a bit more precarious, and we don’t even need a disc battle-to-the-death like in all the Tron live action and animated shows. Just something that puts the thrower off balance as he’s trying to make a great throw, with the addition of a boomerang feature in the discus and two athletes throwing the blindingly lighted discuses at each other–so there’s some dodging required.
Updating rugby and soccer—Jump Ball (Starship Troopers). You can’t beat a sport where men and women play along side each other on equal footing. And Johnny Rico and his pals looked like they were having so much fun, too. Part indoor football, and full contact, with cool gear–all that makes this one a game everyone would want to play and watch.
Updating rugby, polo, and basketball—Quidditch (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, etc). Beyond the flying, Quidditch offers multiple goals and ways to win, and that puts this toward the top of our list of exciting otherworldly sporting events. On the one hand it’s another form of “air hockey” (or “basketball on broomsticks with six hoops” as Harry calls it) where you have to get the ball in the goal, but with the addition of the trickier seeker’s job, viewers can choose which part of the game to watch—assuming someone can film all the details and project it on a nice jumbotron. And like Jump Ball, boys and girls play together on the same team. With neat equipment like the quaffle and bludgers and the zippy little golden snitch, who wouldn’t get excited about this kind of match?
So that’s it. Cheers to Oscar Pistorius. We hope he comes back for the next Olympics.