Yeah, yeah, I admit it; I got sucked into the Olympic Women's Beach Volleyball just like everyone else; the promise of women sweating and grunting a lot gave way to actually being completely into the whole thing. I cheered when Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh spiked and high-fived their way to victory, and it got me thinking: If they can rule the world in Beach Volleyball, how would they fare in the ultimate ballgame of the future... Aeroball?!?For those of you unfamiliar with the sport - which may be all of you, let's face it - Aeroball was the futuristic sport of choice for the Harlem Heroes, a 1970s comic strip from the early days of Britain's classic 2000AD anthology. Combining as many fads as possible for the day, the strip described the sport as...
...Football, Boxing, Kung Fu and Basketball all rolled into one! Players roar through the air wearing jet packs (controlled by buttons on their belts) and score "air strikes" by getting the ball in the "score tank".
If mixing football (soccer for those of you in the colonies), boxing, kung fu and basketball together doesn't sound like the ultimate sport of the future to you, then I'm sure you were sold as soon as jet packs were mentioned. The rules of Aeroball - which, because it was created for 2000AD, didn't take place in a stadium but in something called a "thrill-bowl" - were never exactly fully explained in the series, but seemed to involve doing whatever was necessary to get the ball into your opponent's basket, even including attempts to kill said opponents, as shown below:
Basically, imagine Harry Potter's Quidditch matches but with jetpacks instead of broomsticks, and death instead of jolly English children with scars on their heads. Who could resist? Apparently, many people; Aeroball was eventually deemed too dull for the sportsfans of the future, and both the game and the Harlem Heroes strip found themselves replaced by Inferno, which announced itself as "Deadlier than Aeroball" and went on for the next 40 weeks to prove it, being quite so "deadlier" that the series was cut short after accusations of being a little too bloodthirsty for the young adult fanbase of the comic (If you're interested, Inferno was also "Faster than speedway" and "Crazier than ice hockey." I didn't know that ice hockey was that crazy, but everything was different back in those days). While it may not have qualified as one of the most gruesome sci-fi death sports ever, Aeroball - one of the few fictional sports tame enough to require replacement by something more deadly on the demand of thousands of British teenagers - should definitely be considered for placement in all future Olympic games. Misty and Kerri should start getting fitted for their jet packs right now. Futuresport of the Past [Those We Left Behind]