Let the games begin: 15 great fictional sports from movies, TV and more
Quidditch (Harry Potter series)
Where better to start than with Quidditch, arguably the most famous fictional game of all? The wizarding world's favorite sport was quickly mastered by Harry Potter, seeker extraordinaire. (Am the only person who now finds it incredibly disconcerting to see Daniel "Equus" Radcliffe as an 11-year-old?)
Quidditch has been fully embraced by Muggles, with a non-flying -- pfft, lame -- version of the sport played at more than 300 colleges and high schools in the United States alone.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone starred in this 1998 gross-out comedy about two slackers who pioneer a new professional sport: a cross between, you guessed it, baseball and basketball. The game is essentially HORSE played in innings: shots from increasing distance count as singles, doubles and triples (a half-court shot consitutes a home run), while missed baskets result in an out. Trash-talking is highly encouraged.
Death Race 2000
This Roger Corman-directed B-movie classic was released in 1975, but set in the year 2000 -- oh, the past, how we have disappointed you.
Every year, America rallies around an incredibly violent cross-country race in which points are awarded for hit-and-run casualties (toddlers are worth 70, the elderly 100). A remake starring Jason Statham came out in 2008, but we prefer the oddball, low-budget camp of the original.
Calvinball (Calvin and Hobbes)
Bill Waterston's beloved Calvin and Hobbes comic introduced this nonsensical sport in a 1990 strip. There's only one rule to Calvinball: The game must never be played with the same rules twice. (The second rule of Calvinball is you do not talk about Calvinball.)
For a characteristically uncharacteristic sample of gameplay, watch students at Washington University in St. Louis demonstrate their own take on Calvinball:
Flonkerton (The Office)
The national sport of Icelandic paper companies, Flonkerton was invented by the cast of The Office for their Office Olympics. This snowshoe-style race, with the competitors' feet tied to boxes of paper, has been repeatedly reenacted by fans of the show -- to varying degrees of success.
Jiggly Ball (Scrubs)
Jiggly Ball isn't a sport, per se, but an elaborate plot to torture J.D. (Zach Braff). It's kind of an Emperor's New Clothes scenario -- when J.D. pretends to be familiar with the made-up game, the Janitor lures him into the parking lot where the other hospital employees pelt him with tennis balls.
Chardee MacDennis (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia)
Created by the denizens of Paddy's Pub, Chardee MacDennis is technically a board game, but it's as physically punishing as any sport there ever was. Its wildly confusing challenges run the gamut from Trivia, Puzzles and Artistry to Emotional Battery and Public Humilation. The only strategy that seems effective is to drink. And then drink some more.
Snøkåathlaan (The Onion)
During the 2010 Winter Olympics, The Onion published an elaborate guide to Snøkåathlaan, a sport that happens not to exist. Too bad: we think international audiences would really dig the ritual sled-dog sacrifices to the Finnish sky-dog and interpretive skiing interludes.
Like Death Race 2000, Rollerball was released in 1975 (and questionably rebooted in the naughties) and loaded with dystopian themes. All team sports -- and world wars -- have been sublimated into Rollerball, which is basically roller derby plus motorcycles, and also death? Watch James Caan werk those kneepads.
Podracing (Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace)
Basically the Star Wars equivalent of drag racing, podracing looks incredibly fun -- and incredibly dangerous. Anakin Skywalker, who clearly does not have proper parental supervision, excels at the sport. The podracing clip above is set to a Skrillex song, because, obviously.
Gonnis (Look Around You)
Gonnis, a blend of golf and tennis, made its deadpan debut on the British "educational" series Look Around You. Keep your eyes peeled for a surreal cameo by the Phillie Phanatic.
Blernsball is a popular 31st-century sport in the Futurama-verse. Much of the gameplay resembles baseball, with a few notable exceptions -- including "Multiball," a scenario in which the batter rounds the bases on a motorcycle, and the fact that relief pitchers ride out from the bullpen astride giant tarantulas.
Robot boxing (Real Steel)
Science's priorities: Google Glass, curing cancer, Google Glass 2.0, robots that punch each other. One of the tragically few movies that Wikipedia categories as a "science fiction sports drama film," Real Steel is a boxing story without all the distracting "human emotions" that ruined Rocky and Raging Bull.
After a childhood spent playing Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64, I remember feeling vaguely disappointed when my driving instructor wanted to me to practice parallel parking instead of dodging Koopa shells.
There's really no reason why NASCAR couldn't launch a Mario Kart sister league. Until then, why not try rolling up to your local go-kart track with a bag of produce?
Whackbat (Fantastic Mr. Fox)
Wes Anderson's woodland creatures play a hybrid of baseball and cricket, with the appropriately whimsical addition of a flaming pinecone. Whackbat is what I assume all animals are doing whenever they're not being watched.