Sports in Space: An Interlude in the Sports on Mars Series
My first article about sports in space contained a section titled “Could these games be played somewhere in between?” This produced an off-site challenge, which I wanted to address.
First, the whole series suffers somewhat from being ambiguous in time, but we’re certainly talking a long way off. In my head I’m targeting life early on Mars, but not so early that there are only scientists on Mars. There are many unanswered questions about that future. Will FIFA still exist as a corrupt entity? Will other intelligent life forms discover us? Will we discover them? Will we take our petty human wars to space? Aside from spy satellites, space has been a peaceful place so far…but will it hold?
These questions can change things. For example, if space is a war zone, then there won’t be games there.
If we begin to interact with extraterrestrials in a friendly way, it seems to me the most likely that individual competition will be impossible. Either they will be super-fast, super-strong, super-tall, super-intelligent, or…something. Likewise, we likely will possess some useful trait. What that is, who knows.
It is possible our games could find a place for them, though if they are too different in size, this will be difficult. Other hybrid games could emerge from our current games. This would be nothing new. Gridiron, rugby, and football were all once the same sport.
So, I’m intentionally leaving some questions unanswered, though keep the questions and critiques coming! I’ll keep writing in the series as long as people are interested.
To more precisely address the issue at hand though, the major reason I cited for not hosting Olympic and other “global” games between Mars and Earth is that there would be no room for spectators. The one thing that could really change this from a “no” to a “yes” would be if we built a large, city-sized space station between Earth and Mars. Even then, we are talking ~75-150 days for both sides, though with improvements in travel (the subject of my next article) less time. That is still at least 2 and a half months. It still seems unlikely that thousands of people from Earth would want to travel that far for what is probably going to be a single Martian team. No, I think the Martians are the ones that are going to have to travel if they want to attend.
Which brings us to another question…
Would the games even take place on Mars?
I didn’t really examine the likelihood that event take place on Mars. It’s not likely to happen for some time after there is a Martian colony. It wasn’t until 2002 that the World Cup was held in Asia. It wasn’t until 2010 that the World Cup was held in Africa. The World Cup still hasn’t been in Australia, and there are no plans for it to be. The World Cup still hasn’t been in the Middle East and there is some chance the 2022 Qatar bid will be moved (though I’m not optimistic about a revote – I have no real problem with Qatar hosting the tournament, but it was handled poorly and I think there should be a revote).
Mars probably won’t have the safety concerns Africa and the Middle East have. I don’t want to get bogged down in a separate issue about Africa in the Middle East, but I feel like I need to address that comment before moving on. Both the African Cup of Nations and Egyptian league football recently had violence problems. Despite that, Brazil is still the leader in football-related deaths. Not a ton of people were concerned about Brazil getting awarded the World Cup, were they? Sure, there were protests about the way the tournament was handled, but the idea of Brazil isn’t a problem. Where racisms comes into play in that, I’ll let you decide.
While Mars won’t have the same types of concerns, there will be safety concerns for some time. For one, it is possible there will be space pirates. Space travel is likely to look a lot like ship travel for a long time, except there isn’t a trade reason to go anywhere…yet. That lack of trade probably means no space pirates for a while, but once shipments go on a regular basis, the shipments could be held hostage.
For a long time, I think the safety concerns of space travel will keep the games not only off of some place between (except perhaps earth orbit), but also off of Mars.
Zero Gravity Games
As with meeting extraterrestrials, being in space is likely to create new games. These games could happen in places off Earth. As mentioned in the first article, the series is focusing on the FIFA World Cup and IOC Olympics. The IOC could add games, and as not all of the events actually took place in Sochi last year, maybe some sports will just use a host city as a launch site. Time will tell!