I've been meaning to blog about this for some time now, but have you seen SlamBall, the crazy new made-for-television sport where basketball meets trampolines in a series of violent mid-air collisions and ferocious dunks? Let me tell you, it is something else.



[Aside] Rob Wilson, who played basketball at the University of Toronto when I was playing at Queen's, now plays stopper for the Bouncers. Neat, eh?



Courtesy of SlamBall

Slate's Robert Weintraub gives an excellent overview of the appeal of the sport, noting that "SlamBall is everything the XFL wanted — and failed — to be. A traditional sport has been stripped down to its most athletic and violent elements, with all-access cameras recording every move while toughs with nicknames like 'The Landlord' and 'Inches' growl and taunt with WWF-like aplomb."

(He also called the XFL a "Spruce Goose", though I prefer "New Coke".)

I think it goes a little beyond that, though. It is the amplified reflexes that is the hook here, the ability to escape the limits of our own bodies. Everything else, we've seen before.

There is one other difference: SlamBall is played in a warehouse studio in Los Angeles with six teams, none of whom have a civic affiliation. They also have a portable studio that they plan to take out on the road, bringing the sport town to town — kind of like the WWF. The moral of the story: SlamBall doesn't carry the carry the expensive stadium infrastructure of traditional professional team sports, yet they still have sport media revenue potential. And if they can keep labour costs down by retiring SlamBall after a few seasons, Warner Bros. will have found a profitable little niche in the professional sports industry.

It's what I call short-product-life-cycle, made-for-television sports, or SPLCMFT sports (for short, heh heh). I think they — SlamBall and future SPLCMFTs taken together — have the potential to cause real problems for the established industry incumbents (read: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL).

SlamBall CEO Mason Gordon (who is also a player) weighs in with his version of the sport's future.


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