Sports have been popular pursuits since time immemorial - as well as a proven
form of entertainment, for both participant and spectator. This much is
the same in the dark future.
The two most popular athletic endeavors in Metrodome are pro-wrestling and
rollerderby (with the auto-racing/derby event, Deathrace, a close
runner-up). Both sports have established immensely successful leagues
whose exploits are televised nationally and even syndicated to the world
market. While both leagues would love to expand their brands into other
cities, states, and countries, problems with communications, transportation,
and more have hindered their attempts. For now, they remain centered in
Metrodome, where they enjoy astounding success. However, each has made strides in foreign markets with their "Regulation" gear and
"Official" guides, which players elsewhere use to establish their own
amateur leagues - making the leagues' overseers up-and-coming players in the
corporate realm and giving them a steady crop of talent from which to choose.
Of course these games are a very serious business, and the darker side lay in
the internal politics both in and between the leagues.
Both the pro-wrestling and rollerderby leagues started-out as amateur teams
formed by several regular participants in pick-up games across the Dome, and
both began their rise to fame at about the same time. As their popularity
and membership grew, so did their responsibilities - and their fan bases.
In response, organizers introduced "Regulation" rules and held
irregular "Tournaments" and "Demonstrations." More
and more, clerical help was needed to handle the rosters and scoring, and games
were being recorded and circulated amongst friends and fans. Homemade
fliers and posters were being distributed by the fans themselves and when
audiences got to be so large they were causing disturbances, admission was
added to offset the cost of bribes and rental fees. Gamblers and hustlers
developed lucrative sidebusinesses, taking bets on the matches and peddling
refreshments. Soon enough, cunning, young media executives took notice,
and "Official" leagues were established.
With corporate sponsorship came better equipment and venues, allowing the sports to expand and develop,
free of the limitations imposed by playing in the streets and concrete-slabbed
warehouses with their own shoddy, piecemeal, and often hand-crafted
equipment. Better healthcare meant athletes took bigger chances - and
bigger hits - which drew bigger crowds. Metrodome citizens, starved for
nearly any form of entertainment which allayed the stress of everyday survival,
flocked to the events, which took on a carnival atmosphere. At this
point, everyone took notice.
The athletes who make it into these leagues are true stars. While household names in
Metrodome, they are known throughout the world; to say they are "only famous in Metrodome" is like saying someone today is "only famous in America." Their images adorn children's walls and
corporate CEOs' computer screens, their exploits in the rings make headlines,
and their exploits outside the arenas are regularly splashed across the covers of yellow journals
Both sports vie for fans' attention - as they are the only real competition
either has - and disputes over arenas have arisen more than once. In
fact, the historic brawl between the leagues over the use of ARENA is what rocketed the two sports to super-fame (many insist it was staged,
though all participants vehemently deny this). There is definitely
bad-blood between the two and each constantly tries to outdo the other with
larger, more spectacular, events and rougher, bloodier tournaments.
Ticket price wars rage periodically - sometimes resulting in free demos and
other live events - and recruitment of young talent can be fierce. Both
corporations are engaged in a brutal "brand-loyalty" war and love to
stoke the fires; it is not uncommon for fans of one sport to accost fans of the
other, and both (surreptitously) encourage this at every level. For these
reasons, most venues will not allow the sports to be hosted within a one week
period of one another.
Teams within the rollerdery league are almost all dictated by, and named for,
the sponsor - so you have BioHazzard and the Punisher Blades - but the Metrodome Rollers are the exception for good reason: they are the original rollerderby team of
Metrodome. Almost none of the founding members still play, though all are
still involved in the sport to varying degrees. Some are trying to
establish leagues in other sectors and cities; several coach teams in the
league; others are involved in the corporate side of the sport; and still
others have used their rollerderby celebrity to move into other careers.
The biggest sensation in rollerderby right now is probably Firefly - a relative
newcomer who has taken the sport by storm!
One of R.A.S.S.L.'s founding members still competes: Carl (the self-proclaimed
"King") "Dragoon" Kovechs. However, detractors gleefully point-out "King"
Dragoon is nowhere near as good in non-wrestling R.A.S.S.L. events and, at
nearly 40-years old, he isn't as good at wrestling as he once was,
either! For as fast and violent as rollerderby gets (the recent fatality
in the Deathball event drew record viewers - amazingly, it was the first death
in the event since the league began), R.A.S.S.L. is downright brutal. Few
R.A.S.S.L.ers last long; the average career span of a R.A.S.S.L. athlete is 3-5
years (or one term) and there are limited options for the athletes within the
organization afterward, though some do find roles as trainers, recruiters,
managers, and more.
While rollerderby and the varied events of R.A.S.S.L. are far and away the most
popular sporting events in and around Metrodome, there are many others. Some are popular because they are interesting to
watch - flashy, fast, and/or violent - but others are popular because they
invite participation or are easy for viewers to take up on their own.
Most notable is the auto race and derby, Deathrace. While few wheeled cars still operate on the roadways, there are of
course millions of cars still in existence, and many of them are just there for
the taking - setting in the driveways of abanoned suburbs across America, in
junkyards, and so on. Some historians of the sport insist it originated
in the Out-Law, while others say the nomenklatura took up the hobby (arguing
only they could afford it; opponents note there is a financial reason for these
claims), but however and wherever it began, Deathrace is now a televised annual event, replete with corporate sponsorship and its
own star athletes.
On the one hand, it is nowhere near as popular as R.A.S.S.L. or the
Rollerderby, but that is misleading. In short, as so few can actually
participate or mimic the sport on their own, automotive sports will never be as
popular as others; on the other hand, the annual Deathrace draws millions of
viewers and hundreds of thousands of fans (who stand along the path, cheering
paticipants on). In many ways, it is similar to IRL's Kentucky Derby and
carries many of the same associations: it is a highly-regarded, annual event;
many high-powered CEOs and celebrities attend the launch and finish parties,
which are themselves legendary events; the bets made on it are sometimes so
large as to be newsworthy themselves; and there are rarely any repeat winners.
In-line streetskating is also very big. Considered the individual
precursor to Rollerderby, many participants disgaree, saying they prefer
in-line skating or skateboarding because the races are less violent and it is
more about showmanship. The sport is exactly akin to the sport IRL.
The Rollerderby often sponsors freestyle and in-line skating events as
demonstrations (primarily for recruitment).
Many of today's sports are still popular as pick-up games - American football,
a modified form of baseball, basketball, and so on - but many of them appear in
modified, more violent forms in R.A.S.S.L. competitions. While children
still play improvised pick-up games throughout the streets and alleyways, they
all dream of one day being contenders in one of the "real" sports
prevalent in the Dark Conspiracy world.
Picture courtesy of Mikael Persson. Used by Permission. Modified for use by C Harris Lynn.