Just a preview from our current drafts:
Blood and excessive injuries became acceptable with the introduction of Street Ball in the mid-teens. Street Ball began as a reality show later popularized into a complete sport, including dedicated venues, charismatic players, and all the televised violence that the public craved. Other sports became increasingly violent, US Football, Championship Wrestling, Mixed-Martial Arts, all allowed and in most cases demanded an increased level of personal violence to the participants. Deaths in the ring for MMA cage matches were not uncommon. The fighters signed all the right forms for a potentially deadly match so that death and permanent injury were allowed outcomes. The GlobeNet entertainment rating system was off the chart for the first Street Ball League competitive match. Institutionalized betting, once only allowed through at select establishments, became commonplace and standardized. Placing bets through GlobeNet became very easy. Enforcing payment of losses is now a “normal” occupation for mercenaries and private investigators.
Sports figures had already risen to celebrity status with paparazzi, reporters, and followers galore, but after the Greater Depressions, they became legends. Gone is the demure athlete staying to himself, fumbling over words in an interview. Replacing them are the smooth publicity seekers, using their abilities to propel themselves onto the latest vid feed. More important than scoring a lot of points is the manner in which the points were scored—fans demand flair and flamboyance.
Natural and not-so-natural disasters plagued the populations of earth throughout the time of the Greater Depression. All of these disasters were broadcast on the news networks and channels. It seemed that the public could not satisfy their morbid appetite for seeing other’s maladies—and the news services were very eager to provide coverage to this hungry audience.
Often providing coverage in depth with slick mobile production units providing multiple, coordinated cameras and angles, the news services went to burned out or destroyed urban locations to “get the story.” The news services fed a recurring paradigm of scrambling populations trying to salvage resources and save their children. These productions were broadcast on the GlobeNet by news organizations and featured real people trying to save themselves amidst the disaster around them. People clamored for more of this drama—it appeared that their own woes were forgotten when watching the woes of others.
It was Calvin Chu, a Global News Network (GNN) executive that first pitched a staged survival scene as a reality-type show. Reality shows were very popular in the early decades of the 21st century. Chu’s production was staged in a destroyed urban section of LA devastated by the Last Great Quake where 40% of southern California was destroyed. The ruined setting was never rebuilt as there was no corporate interest and the government’s emergency aid had been defunded decades ago. Chu outlined an area for the production with emplaced remotely controlled cameras and microphones. All aspects of the anticipated drama could get “coverage.”
To bolster his drama, Chu developed two competing “factions” in this local area. These factions consisted of out of work and very hungry actors, including the Bairn, the real child that one side was supposed to save. So the actors were placed in the “street,” and had the rules explained to them. The drama would begin at daybreak the next day.
Chu also hired a panel of publicity-seeking celebrities to review each day’s highlights and score each team on their performance. Teams would accumulate a running score over several days of play. In the closing show on the last day the producers calculated totals for each side. The celebrities would award the winning side with new living quarters, considerable bonuses, and other prizes. The losers got a somewhat lower bonus and were placed on a list for future consideration should the show be approved for another season. Many teams won their next engagement after learning from their loss what it takes to win.
In the second season, some of the reality-actors broke into scuffles for possession of recovered supplies and for possession of the child they were to save. At this point Chu decided to add in enforcers and emergency medical technicians to each side. Nothing sells like a little blood on the streets.
However, it was in the third season when one of the actors was killed in a melee over a cache of water. Chu and GNN bought the rights to the investigation, squashed it, and established an agreement with law enforcement that they would try and punish the murder on the show. A few greased palms later, and the highest show views and reviews were the result.
Chu’s success spawned a series of exploitational look-alike shows. Corporate interest peaked, when the gambling interests in Vegas ran an odds board for the shows. The ratings were high and the advertising income immense. Soon each corporation was sponsoring a competition of their own. There were enough ruins to go around, enough desperate players waiting in the wings, so the concept took off as a competition. Soon play and news for these independent venues were covered on the GlobeNet Sports Channels to generate more interest and viewers. Eventually, the talking-head sports pundits proposed a playoff between two corporations to see who had the better team. The corporations agreed to an event whose success in ratings and revenue spawned the league.
As a sport, Street Ball took off. Corporate sponsors removed the child and replaced it with the Bairn (the Ball) when the violence grew too great, but the basic rules set forth by Chu remain—a bit more formalized, but mostly unchanged.
Competition among the corporations was very strong—in the league and out—so members of the burgeoning Street Ball League decided to double the stakes and put a corporate dispute on the line. The public loved it. At last, the actions of individuals could affect corporate outcomes.
Currently there is an international major league, called the Street Ball League and a fair number of national and regional minor leagues. There are a lot of bush leagues and some standing all-comer events. Televising the majors, and regionally the minors, has proven very lucrative for the event sponsors and the sports networks. The gambling factions have made a fat profit off league play as well, with many unresolved homicides apparently resulting from gambling fixes or other impacts to the gambling profit as the likely motive.
Racing is still a common and popular sport activity, but the demand for violence has added things like active/reactive barriers, inter-vehicle weapons, and “demolition” grands prix. In the twenties, the death-race concept took off with races where modified armored passenger cars studded with “defensive” weapons were driven around a demolition course. The last car running was declared the winner. In the first televised match two deaths, one permanent coma victim, and several severed spinal cords resulted from the production of the most popular GlobeNet ratings ever seen. Public sentiment decrying the violence was drowned in a general blood lust that followed. Now every level from dirt track survival circuits to mega-media international grudge death matches flood vids in every anthill all over the world—at least the ones with electricity.
When the personal violence and a track can be combined, sometimes the public literally goes crazy. In the desire for media heroes, the public has embraced Overdrive, a team sport of individuals playing on sides that combines basketball, US football, roller derby, and NASCAR. There is no limit to the technology that can be used in Overdrive, but all players must be on wheels of some sort and the player’s rig cannot mass more than 50 kg. Powered unicycles, motorcycles, powered roller skates are just some of the tek that is used in Overdrive.
Players drive around a track. When one team has the “ball,” movement is in one direction. When the other side takes possession, travel is in the other direction. There is no limit on the violence, so players are heavily armed and armored. The object is to circle the track one or more times, then attempt a shot on goal. The “ball” is a 15-cm diameter wooden ball covered in synthetic leather and having a 3-cm solid steel core for weight. The “goal” varies by the venue, but the average is a 75-cm diameter ring on the wall.
The “track” used in Overdrive also varies by the venue and can have multiple curves and crossing paths. One promoter had the track use jumps and elevated raceways, but the public could not get the viewing angles and still be close to the action, so relatively flat tracks are still the standard. Scoring involved a go once around the track, a great deal of hitting, shoving, and so forth, only to throw the ball through the goal for a score.