Tales From the Pitch: My Brush With Greatness

Capricornus 20, 2077, m249


I have butterflies in my stomach. I haven’t been this excited/nervous since I was kid. Hanging in front of me is an official MAFL EV suit, and I’m about to suit up and see firsthand what it feels like to barrel down the pitch and score a goal before legions of my adoring fans.

At least I hope that is what will happen. It is also equally likely that I’ll fall flat on my face or suffer some sort of compound fracture. Or a combination of the two.

To start off here is a science lesson: Mars’s gravity is 38% of Earth’s. That means if I weighed 200 lbs back on Earth I weigh 76 lbs here. Moving to Mars is the best diet I’ve ever gone on. It also means that if I could jump a meter on Earth I can now jump almost 3 meters here. That’s why that John Carter guy was able to jump around and rescue a princess in that old-timey story.

All the MAFL stadiums are open air, and because we humans haven’t been able to exist without oxygen yet all players are required to wear a EV (environmental) suit that houses life-support, communications, and propulsion systems. You’d think that all the tech would make the suit bulky and cumbersome but it fits like a glove. And I look amazing, like I’m some kind of superhero! Staring at myself in the mirror gives me the confidence boost I need so I put on my helmet and race out to the pitch. Today, I’m an official Titan, clad in purple and gold.

I’m not alone though. There are a handful of other reporters and, I think, a couple of contest winners who are also getting to participate in today’s festivities. We are greeted by Jamarico Benson, the team's assistant coach and trainer, who starts us through some warm up drills.

And here, dear reader, is where I learned that wind-sprints and burpees are awful even at 38% gravity. Sure, I felt cooler doing them in my EV suit, but after about five minutes I thought I was going to need the life support system because of an infarction.

My demeanor totally changes though when we are greeted on the pitch by a familiar voice. It’s a voice that we’ve heard in countless interviews and sound bites: team captain Raenia Ware has come out to run us though some kicking drills.

This is where I start to lose any bit of professional cool I once had. I’m grinning like an idiot at how excited I am. She runs it all down for us and we each get a regulation MAFL ball. I place it on the ground and line up my shot, thinking of the thousands of screaming fans channeled through the com that must assault the players’ ears during a real match. I envision that this kick with determine a championship win for my team during a high-pressure shoot-out.

Running up to the ball, I perfectly connect and see soar through air against a red sky. I don’t want to blow my own horn but is perfect, a postcard image.

We end up playing a short friendly match where I prove that I am the least useful player but I don’t care. That one perfect kick is everything I needed today.

Being out on the pitch has given me a greater appreciation for what the athletes do, and not just because they have flashy tech suits. Everything about Mars is alien. We needed to retrain ourselves even with simple tasks like kicking a ball, and that is what MAFL ultimately represents: our victory as a new people. Every aspect of this game demonstrates how we came together as a people as tamed the red planet. And I think that’s awe-inspiring.