Sports in space

We’re in the midst of a financial hornets’ nest, Afghanistan is still in turmoil, and the planet continues to warm. So, obviously, what we need during these troubled times are sports in space.

Thankfully, some of our best minds are working on this crucial sports in space initiative. Or, at least, a mind. Former NFL linebacker Ken Harvey, late of the Washington Redskins, made the sports page of the New York Times once again for his foray into space tourism. His “dream” is to create a game called “Float Ball” where players in zero or micro-gravity environments would float and bounce around while competing to shepherd colored balls to (through?) goals. Kind of like a combination of football, basketball, rugby and maybe Australian Rules Football. Or something like that.

If nothing else, Ken Harvey dreams big. He looks into the future and sees Float Ball on the moon, the International Space Station, even on Mars. I can’t wait. Sign me up now for a Float Ball fantasy league.

Seriously, though, Harvey’s idea has drawn some genuine interest. He’s partnered with Space Adventures–a company that aims to make space travel available to private citizens. (They’ve plunked several customers on the International Space Station, for a hefty fee.) And Harvey evidently spoke to a group of NASA engineers about his space sports vision.

Now, astronauts do require exercise in space. I’ve written about NASA initiatives to design training programs for astronauts on long missions … And there is a history of astronauts doing stuff like playing golf on the moon (boring the watch, actually). But there’s no precedent for full-fledged sports in space. Why? There’s the extreme cost, for one thing. And the lack of things that most sports depend on, like gravity, oxygen, large arenas or fields in/on which to play sports … the list goes on. In fact, staging a sporting event in space could lead to total disaster. Check out this video

But still, there’s no harm in dreaming, I guess. And Harvey does have a website dedicated to what he calls “Space Sportilization.” Check it out and see for yourself.

EarthSky