Rollerball (Rollerball, 1975)
The bastard son of a roller derby and American Football, this sees our wheeled warriors (and occasional motorbikes) tussle it out on the ringed pitch in order to slot the steal ball into the goal. Rollerball is the near future’s way of letting the pacified population - the world run by corporations now instead of countries - get its competitive kicks, until star-skater Jonathan E’s individualism threatens the strict social order. It’s basically a vicious riot in extremely impractical footwear.
BASEketball (BASEketball, 1998)
Now this is the sort of sporting six-pack we can relate to. Playing basketball with baseball rules, Coop and Remer’s hastily improvised ‘hood’ rules cunningly bleach all the athleticism out of the game, reducing it to penalty shots from different ‘bases’ with missed shots counting as outs. Better yet, you’ve got free reign to psyche out your opponents, whether it’s informing them of your dishonourable intentions regarding their sisters or just spitting fruit-pips in their face. Every home run strikes a victory for all those picked last at games.
Pod Racing (Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace, 1999)
George Lucas is a total petrol-head, even after narrowly avoiding death in a drag racing accident as a kid. It’s no surprise that motor mayhem keeps cropping up in one form or another in his movies, but most spectacularly in The Phantom Menace, where rocket-propelled racing is a Galaxy, Far Far Away's number one sport. Of course, young Yippee-ing Anakin Skywalker’s mega-midichlorians mean that his Jedi reflexes turn him into a champion, though a little part of you still can’t help wishing the annoying little nerf-herder would misjudge one of those oh-so-deadly turns.
Man Hunt (The Running Man, 1988)/The Hunger Games, 2012)
‘Man is the greatest game’, according to the movies, with the entertainment industry boiling sports down to its most primal competitive level - man vs. man, but with some chainsaws bunged in for good measure. Remarkably, the devious levels that Ben Richards and the contestants of The Running Man face now actually looks less staged than most modern reality TV shows. Thankfully, with The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen proved that if man really is the greatest game, then woman is the ultimate player. May the odds be ever in her favour.
Quidditch (Harry Potter movies, 2001-2011)
Fourteen players, six goal-hoops, four balls and only one winning team (spoiler: it’s usually Gryffindor). While the average 7-year-old can’t explain the offside rule they can instantly tell you how many points catching The Golden Snitch will net you. Yes, one of the most popular sports on the planet isn’t even real, with Harry Potter’s bewitching broom-battles sweeping aside most other competitions. Not surprisingly, us Muggles have genuinely already had a crack at turning this into reality. Needless to say, without that certain Wingardium Leviosa element, it doesn’t look so magic.
Jump Ball (Starship Troopers, 1997)
Imagine American Football but faster, more aggressive and without all those endlessly boring squad turnovers. Or in other words, better. Welcome to Jump Ball, Starship Troopers’ unisex, full-contact future of football, that leaves bone splinters on the pitch and, with winning manoeuvres such as Johnny Rico’s ‘Flip-Six Three-Hole’, features acrobatic gymnastics that puts the cheerleaders to shame. Incidentally, the ‘Flip-Six Three-Hole’ is probably also the name of Troopers - and Showgirls - director Paul Verhoeven’s dream movie project.
Light Cycle Pursuit (Tron, 1982)
Pollution kills - quite literally in the case of Tron’s light cycles, whose exhausts trail a wall of solid energy in their wake that proves fatal to anyone cycling into it. As such, the key to the battle is more strategy than acceleration, trying to hem in your opponent in so they’ve got nowhere else to go but through that brutal beam of light and oblivion. But no matter the result, with those swishy neon outfits, they’ll be the best-dressed competitors in any games they’re in.
Thunderdome Gladiators (Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, 1985)
What’s better than a cage fight? A cage fight on flying bungee wires and heavy weaponry, that’s what, because fighting on the ground with fists is for namby pambies. In Mad Max’s desolate future, the Thunderdome is actually Bartertown’s arena for ‘alternative conflict resolution’, though we’d hate to be the one who loses that argument. Two men enter, only one man leaves… and we’d wager that the man heading for the exit door would be a gruff Australian.
Skeet Surfin’ (Top Secret!, 1984)
Wax down that surfboard and load up on guns. Skeet Surfin’ is the far-out sport for the big-bopping beach babes, combining surfboarding with clay pigeon shooting - obviously! But not only does it look hip, it sounds it too, thanks to Top Secret!’s teen superstar Nick Rivers. Of course, if you were to hint that Nick’s super skeet surfin’ spinners - sample lyric: “We’ll have fun with our guns until the lifeguard takes our ammo away” - have a touch of the Beach Boys about them, then you’re probably from Squaresville, Daddy O.
Whack Bat (Fantastic Mr Fox, 2009)
Some things just seem more popular in rural areas, like fresh produce, walking home in the pitch black and err, cows. Add to that list Whack Bat, the sport of choice for Fantastic Mr Fox and his extended entourage of badgers, rabbits and other mischievous mammals. The rules get a little thorny: the whack-batter has to hit the flaming pinecone at the cedar crossbar… well, after that we get a little lost, to be honest, and we think some of the Twig Runners just spin around in circles in the outfield… but they had us at flaming pinecone. “And now divide the score by nine…”
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