3 November 2008
Media - Other (Good)
Sports In Space
Because tackling hurts less in zero g
by G B Leatherwood
We knew it was going to happen: sports free from the limitations of gravity. Following the bouncing ball takes on a whole new meaning when the ball can bounce of the ceiling, walls, floor, and especially when it's still in the hands of the player, also bouncing off the ceiling, walls, and floor.

Ken Harvey, former NFL star linebacker for the Washington Redskins for much of the late 1990s, recently made just such a pitch to NASA engineers, technicians, and scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.

According to New York Times reporter Michael Brick in his article dated 30 October 2008, Harvey told his attentive audience, "There's a bonus where you have to pick up a person holding a certain ball and throw them through a hoop as a sort of extra point."

Instead of taking the more traditional route followed by many NFL retirees of car dealerships and fast food franchises, Harvey tried motivational speaking, largely because, as he said, "I did things the hard way getting to the pros, and I'm doing things the hard way now."

Harvey met with Eric Anderson, the president of Space Adventures, to propose a "Float Ball League," but Anderson indicated that this would require a couple of decades of significant reductions in the cost of space travel. He also told Harvey that thinking big could hardly hurt.

Addressing the NASA audience, Harvey ran through a series of slides covering the troubled economy, the promise of space tourism, citations of sports in the work of science fiction novelists, and Alan Shepard's innovative lunar golf shot.

Advanced concepts like the Float Ball League would develop in time from astronaut fitness programs, virtual reality games, zero-gravity flights, and educational efforts designed to instill post-space age children with new interstellar dreams. "Sometimes," he said, "it doesn’t' happen in your generation, but you plan to see it in the next generation."

The Super Bowl on the moon or Mars? Could happen if Ken Harvey has his way.
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G B Leatherwood 3 November 2008
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