LIVing it up

I don’t often talk about sports here on PPC. (As an aside, my original not-a-blog had a dedicated sports section. My, how things change in a generation!) The problem with major American sports is, like so many other parts of America, due to wokeness. The three major sports leagues—MLB, NFL, and NBA—all openly support a domestic terrorist organization. The NFL wanted to blacklist its best player for not getting an experimental and deadly gene therapy treatment; the tennis US Open actually did. NASCAR peddled a hate crime hoax and banned its biggest demographic from displaying symbols of their heritage. And the NHL might have backed off its requirement for players to support anti-human practices such as grooming and castration, but it never apologized for pushing them in the first place.

One of the few sports where the woke haven’t fully taken over is golf, and that’s for a few reasons. One, it’s an individual sport with low popular appeal, so Blackrock and the other ESG pushers just don’t see a need to inject idiocy into it. Two, golf is, unlike most professional sports played in the US, truly a global game. Many of the players are Asian, and Asians in general just don’t have time for the alphabet soup crowd. (And they hate “racial equity” nonsense. That’s something that’s common to Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans, as far as I can tell.) Yes, one of the greatest golfers of all time is black, but almost nobody cares about that. To anyone watching golf to enjoy the spectacle, Tiger Woods is Tiger Woods. He’s easy to pick out of a crowd, sure, but we’d much rather remember, say, his performance in the 2008 US Open than his response to George Floyd’s death.

Of course, the PGA Tour is an American institution, and thus it is vulnerable to woke influences. Over recent years, they have crept in. They still aren’t very noticeable, compared to other sports, but they’re there. Pride Month celebrations and rainbow logos are the main illustration, but being woke isn’t just about supporting those who hate humanity. It’s also about supporting the global neoliberal order. Much like in tennis, where the Australian Open tried to censor supporters of Russian players, the PGA has it out for anyone who doesn’t swallow the US-EU-NATO narrative. And that’s where our story begins.

Rock the casbah

Saudi Arabia is one of the most barbarous regimes on the planet. That’s indisputable. Their treatment of women, for example, is heinous by any standard other than their own deranged one. They use their leverage as one of the world’s major oil producers as a bludgeon to prevent their crimes against humanity from being investigated or prosecuted. True, they aren’t the worst, but they’re definitely near the top of the list.

But they’re also filthy rich. Much like the United Arab Emirates, the Saudis have begun investing in sports. Part of this is image rehabilitation, but the rest is just simple good business sense. The oil won’t last forever. (Well, it will, because abiotic methane production is a thing, but that’s a different post.) Investing in other ventures is a hedge against the future, and sports are always popular. They also draw huge crowds; even Qatar managed that for its ill-advised World Cup last year.

Thus, it’s no surprise that the Saudi government’s slush fund decided to get into golf. The problem is, they’re Saudis, and the woke hate Saudis. Now, this isn’t for the normal reasons you and I should hate them. Oh, no. Progressives will instead point to the execution of the journalist Jamal Kashoggi a few years ago, as well as the Riyadh regime’s religion-based stance against homosexuality. To the left, these are crimes far worse than torturing political prisoners or imprisoning rape victims.

Even though woke mind virus hadn’t infected the PGA to the point of killing the host, the Tour’s leadership wanted nothing to do with Saudi “blood money”. So the princes decided on the Bender plan: they’d create their own golf tour with blackjack and hookers. They called it LIV Golf, and they hired one of the game’s greats, Greg Norman, to build it.

LIV promised a refreshing change from the staid formula of the PGA. They announced that their tournaments would be 54 holes instead of 72, with no cuts and a team-based format that encouraged every golfer to carry his weight. Oh, and the purses would be massive. In all, it would be something like a Champions League of golf…assuming anybody joined.

Of course, they offered huge contracts to the world’s biggest names. Tiger Woods reportedly got an offer of nearly a billion dollars just to sign. He refused, but others did not, and the LIV roster filled out with a host of top-tier players, quite a few blue-chip golfers, and some younger stars who likely wouldn’t be able to make a name for themselves in the crowded PGA field.

The PGA leadership, as well as those who didn’t take the offers, called this treason. They accused the LIV supporters of selling out, taking dirty money, and (worst of all for a progressive) supporting an enemy of America. Never mind that the Saudis are technically our allies. They’re enemies of the woke, and that’s all that counts here.

Alien vs. Predator

The PGA and the progressive monoculture did its best to fight LIV. Mainstream media closed ranks, issuing hundreds of press releases disguised as news articles, all talking about the heroic PGA golfers fighting against the “defectors” of LIV. They mocked the small schedule, as if a nascent tour could manage more than 10 events on such short notice. They most likely interfered in negotiations to keep LIV off American TV networks, and apparently banned any coverage of the tour on their websites.

In every case, the reasons were the same, and the columnists repeated the talking points almost verbatim. LIV was “sportswashing”, a made-up term that goes back to the woke distortion of the concept of original sin: to the left, some crimes can never be forgiven, only avenged. No matter how many years pass, we’re not allowed to forget that the Saudis killed a journalist! They don’t support gay marriage! These two facts, according to progressive logic, mean that Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s worst abusers of human rights.

It’s okay if the US imprisons political protestors without trial or charge. It’s fine that Israel operates the world’s largest open-air prison. Child trafficking is just part of the Ukraine’s culture, apparently. And locking people in their homes, closing their businesses, and seizing the assets of those who didn’t comply? Just par for the course, if you’ll pardon the pun. But anything other than total obeisance before the protected classes is truly unforgivable.

A few years ago, sports columns rarely delved into politics. Lately, of course, they’ve been getting worse and worse about not staying in their lane, but golf was one of the few exceptions until LIV came along. And it got especially bad when the Saudi tour announced its schedule, and the progressives saw that it included courses owned by Donald Trump. That, I can only assume, was the final straw, and the reason why so much vitriol was poured into reporting for a sport whose usual scandals are drunk driving and divorce disputes.

A whole new world

Earlier this week, all that ended with the surprising announcement of a merger between the PGA and LIV, as well as the European tour that is so unimportant that I don’t even care to look up its name for this post. In the agreement, all three tours get to keep some measure of autonomy, but they’ll be overseen by a board that is, for the most part, made up of Saudi picks. And the PGA gets a Saudi on its policy board. Oh, and whoever’s running the princes’ sports fund has right of first refusal for any future investors into the PGA Tour.

That’s not a merger. That’s a buyout. And it’s hilarious.

All the talk about blood money and sportswashing and human rights abuses went up in flames with this announcement. The reams of digital paper spent trying to convince golf fans that they should care about a random journalist who died years ago were wasted. Vilifying Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau backfired, and now we get to watch Rory McIlroy, probably the most outspoken supporter of the PGA status quo, cry about it.

Progressives on sports news sites are so shocked that they can’t even write a coherent article about it. All they can do is parrot the usual phrases as if trying to recite warding spells. They’ve even expanded this to include the mainstream falsehoods about the 2020 election (which was rigged) and the 2021 US Capitol protest (which was not an insurrection), thanks to the Trump connection.

But all their objections are hollow. They’ve been exposed as hypocrites and liars. They never really wanted what was best for the game of golf. I’m not saying that LIV did, but it’s certainly willing to try new and interesting things like, you know, not destroying a sport for political gain.

The woke mind virus is our enemy. In that, we take the allies we’re given. Whether that’s Russia fighting to prevent the globalist cabal from completing their villainous agenda or the leaders of random African countries giving their lives to expose the truth of the so-called pandemic, those of us on the side of right, on the side of humanity and Enlightenment, will accept any aid. For this instance, it is the Saudis with their near-infinite pool of money that has put the progressives in their place. I’d still hold a gun pointed at them—trust is earned, not bought—but I’ll at least shake their hand while I’m doing it.

Creating a sport

Humans have probably played games for about as long as they’ve been human. Some of these are mental (chess, etc.), while others are mostly physical in nature. These physical games, when they become somewhat organized and competitive (two other universals in humanity), can be called sports.

This post, then, looks at what it takes to create the rudiments of a fictional sport. I’ll admit, very few stories will need such fine detail. The specifics of a sport likely won’t feature in any work of fiction, though there are examples of sports being a focus. The video game Final Fantasy X has its Blitzball, for example; it’s both a mini-game and a major part of the culture of Spira, the game’s fictional world. Similarly, the Harry Potter book/movie series has its game of Quidditch, which forms a backdrop for certain events of its story. (And that fictitious sport later received its own video game, Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup.)

Again, let’s spell out what the post considers a sport. It has to be mainly physical, first of all. Go and chess are both classic games with long histories and intricate strategies, but they are tests of the mind, not the body, so they don’t meet our definition.

Second, sports are competitive. They pit one person or group against one or more others of relatively equal strength. The opposing forces don’t have to be present at the same time—baseball is effectively 9 against 1—but each side must have an equal opportunity to claim victory.

Third, sports have goals. This can be a literal goal, as in soccer or basketball, or a figurative one, like the highest or lowest score. Goals also imply an ending condition, such as time, score, or distance. Otherwise, you don’t have a sport.

Finally, the key factor in turning a game that meets all of the above criteria into a sport is some form of organization. This can be nothing more than a common set of rules, or it can be organized leagues with sponsorship and broadcast rights and billion-dollar contracts. Pickup games of street basketball and gym-class dodgeball fail this test, but they are simplified versions of “true” sports, so they get a pass.

Historical sports

In modern times, we’re familiar with quite a few sports. America has the familiar triumvirate of football, baseball, and basketball, all very popular. Hockey, soccer and rugby are three other big ones around the world, and the Olympics this summer will showcase dozens more. And that’s not counting track and field events, racing (whether on foot or using a vehicle), golf, cricket, and all those others we tend to overlook.

Each of these “modern” sports has a history, but all those histories, whether long (soccer dates back centuries) or short (BMX racing, now an Olympic sport, started in the 1970s) boil down to same thing. Someone, somewhere, started playing a game. More people then began playing. With more players, rules evolved. As the game grew in popularity, it became more fixed in its form, and thus a sport was born.

But sports don’t remain fixed forever. Different rule sets can emerge, and those can give rise to new sports. Rugby split off from soccer when players decided they wanted to pick up the ball and run with it. (Later on, Americans decided they liked a turn-based version better: football.) Cricket never caught on much in the US, but rounders, a simplified version played in English schoolyards, did; after a lot of tweaking, it developed into baseball. The list of “derivative” sports goes on: street hockey, beach soccer and volleyball, Australian rules football…

Nor do sports ever truly die. The Mesoamerican civilizations (Aztec, Maya, Olmec, etc.) have become famous in recent years for the archaeological evidence for their ball game, which dates back as far as 1600 BC. Despite all that has happened since then, a descendant of the Aztec game, now known as ulama, is still played in parts of Mexico. Over in the Old World, the Greek fighting sport pankration, a staple of the classical Olympics that was dropped when they were modernized, has been modified, organized, and subsumed into mixed martial arts.

Birth of a sport

Every culture has its sports. Sometimes, they’re inextricably linked. Few play cricket outside of Britain and its former colonies. Racing on an oval, as in NASCAR, is quintessentially American. Others gain more widespread appeal. Soccer—whatever you want to call it—is a worldwide game. Baseball bas become popular throughout the Americas and Asia. And so on.

Most sports will come about because of a culture. They’ll be part of it, at the start. Sometimes, they’re related to warfare, possibly as training (running, javelin throwing) or as a war “proxy” (the Mesoamerican ball games, maybe). Alternatively, they can be childhood games that “grew up”.

Which sports a culture plays can depend on its outlook on life, its technological advancement, and plenty of other factors. Technology’s role, of course, is easy to understand. After all, you can’t race automobiles until they’re invented. In the same vein, European games before the 1500s didn’t use rubber balls, because they didn’t have them; they tended to use wrapped animal bladders or things like that.

The level of organization is also dependent on these factors. Video replays obviously require video, but that’s an easy one. Precise timing is also necessary for many sports, but it took a long time to master. And from a cultural perspective, it’s not hard to imagine that a more egalitarian society might focus on loosely defined individual competitions rather than team games, while a martial civilization may see rigorously regulated team sports as a perfect metaphor for squad-level battles.

Taking steps

So let’s think about what it takes to make a sport. Looking back at the introduction, we see that we need an organized, competitive, and physical endeavor with well-defined goals. That’s a pretty good start. Let’s break it down in a different way, though, by asking some basic questions.

  1. Who’s playing? Options include one-on-one, like martial arts; one against the “field”, like racing and golf; or team-against-team, as in baseball or football. Anything other than a contest between opposing individuals also requires a total count of players. For “serious” team sports, you can also work out rules for substitutions and things like that.

  2. Where are they playing? Indoors or outdoors is the natural first approximation. But you’ll also want to know the size and shape of the playing area. This is usually the same for every event, but not always. Baseball fields have a bit of variation in the size of the outfield, and the racetrack at Daytona is almost five times as long as the one in Bristol.

  3. What do they need to play? In other words, what equipment does the sport require? Balls are very common, though their composition (rubber, bladder, wood, etc.) can vary. Sticks show up in quite a few sports: baseball, hockey, and cricket are just three. Nets, posts, racquets—the possibilities are virtually endless. That’s not even counting vehicles or, as in polo, animals.

  4. What are they trying to do? “Get the ball in the goal” is one possible objective. “Reach a certain point before X” is another. Those two, in fact, cover most sports Americans recognize as such. Add in “Don’t let the ball touch the ground”, and you’re pretty much set. You can also substitute “puck” or whatever for “ball”, if your sport uses one of those instead. Note that this is the main objective, not the entirety of the rules.

  5. What is and is not allowed? These are the finer rules of the game. They’re the bulk of the gameplay, but a fictitious story is allowed to gloss over them when they’re not pivotal to the action. You have to be consistent, though, but from a storytelling perspective. A sport’s rules don’t necessarily have to make sense. Football’s “catch rule”, the definition of “charging” in basketball, and the whole sport of cricket are evidence of this.

  6. Who wins, and how? This is the victory condition. Some games are time-based, where they end after a certain period has elapsed. Others, such as baseball or tennis, finish after a set number of turns or scores. Sports where score is kept will generally be won by the side with the most scores; golf, though, is a counterexample. Races, of course, go to the one who finishes first, and a few sports (gymnastics and figure skating, for instance, but also boxing) are scored by judges.

There are quite a few other details you can add, like what happens after an event, whether there is enough organization for leagues and championships, etc. The level of detail is important here, though: don’t get lost in impertinent trivia. It’s fun, but you probably don’t need it for the story.

In those stories where it’s warranted, on the other hand, an invented sport can add flavor to a culture. It’s a good illustration that we’re looking at a different set of people. This is what they think is fun. Sure, many cultures will have similarities in their sports. Soccer could plausibly be created just about anywhere, at almost any time. Many of the martial events at the original Olympics came about from soldierly pursuits, and everybody has soldiers. But it’s the differences that we notice the most.

With fantasy, there’s also the potential for new sports that are beyond our capability. Anything involving magic fits this bill; our two fantastic examples above are both physically impossible for ordinary humans. But fantasy worlds might be more amenable to bizarre sports. The same is true in futuristic science fiction. We can’t play games in zero-G today, but that doesn’t mean people on 24th century starships can’t. As with everything in worldbuilding, the only limits are in your mind.