Action key ingredient for sports

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 14, 2002

New sports are cropping up faster and faster these days. The other night I was enjoying my favorite sport, channel surfing, when I came across something called Slamball.

Slamball is apparently the newest sport brought to the American viewing public by TNN. I watched about 30 minutes of the game and actually enjoyed it even though I did not know the rules. Best I could tell, Slamball is a hybrid sport. It is a sport created by genetically splicing DNA from a basketball slam dunk contest, ice hockey and rollerball.

The games are up tempo and full of excitement. The slam dunks are amazing with players bounding off trampolines, affectionately called "tramps" by the play-by-play announcer, and skying over everyone only to almost rip the rim off the goal with a massive slam dunk.

While I enjoyed watching this new "sport" I began to wonder what has happened to make the American sports fan need all these new sports.

Slamball is just the newest of new sports that include arena football. It seems to me that each new sports takes one of the major sports and mutates it to create a more exciting sports whereas to keep the interest of Americans who leave in a fast-paced life and want instant gratification.

Maybe it should be blamed on video games, attention deficit disorder (ADD) or maybe it is just that sports fans want to see something exciting, and defense is not exciting. Well, defense is not exciting to most sports fans, unless it includes a fight breaking out like a brawl at a baseball game.

In fact, just about every sport has a clich that addresses the issue of what fans want. In football the phrase is, "Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships." In golf, even the hackers know "You drive for show and putt for dough." And, baseball has a catchy saying made popular by ESPN to describe what people want to see when they tune in to a sporting event. Yep, that's right "Chicks dig the long ball."

In fact, baseball fans are so in love with home runs that some Major League Baseball organizations have built smaller parks more conducive to home runs and the annual Home Run Derby at the All-Star Weekend is just the most popular event of the weekend.

Fans like home runs so much I think the time has come for a new sport. This new sport is "Long Ball" and is similar to baseball.

The object of the game is to score the most runs. The game is played between two teams made up of five players each. Each players plays as an outfielder trying to rob batters by snagging a would-be home run and bringing it back into the park. A series of trampolines are set into the ground at designated spots where the warning track would be in a MLB stadium.

There is no pitcher for safety reasons. The members of each team will bat against a pitching machine using aluminum bats. The batters can either strikeout, hit out or hit a home run. A "hit out" is any hit that is not a home run. Each team gets five outs per inning. The teams will play six inning games.

Now, this sport is so new that the league has yet to form. However, anyone interested in investing in the league may do so by sending me a check made out to either John Wallace or Cash.

John Wallace is the sports editor of, and columnist for, The Andalusia Star-News.