Mesha 8, 2078, m249
There's no doubt that we've come a long way since inter-colony professional sports exploded onto the Martian scene.
Though it may feel like Aero Football and ice hockey are the catalysts, let's not so forget the many sporting activities that have paved the way since as far back as the original colonization projects. Whether it is the first leisurely play of members of exploration missions, the mandatory physical education programs or the colony health contracts, Martians are among the most physically active people in the solar system, out of necessity.
Before Pathfinder, Aero Football and all the ISMO R&D, there has always been sport. Indeed, MAFL can take the credit for brining it to the next level. They were, after all, the first to introduce the notion of professional full-time athletes on Mars, but as we race for new and more spectacular games to quench the thirst for competitive sport, let's not forget one particular home grown game.
Unlike the fancier sports that require life support suits and custom equipment, this one has been played by generations across multiple colonies, indoors: Hoop Zazzel, better known at Hoopz.
Yes, it may feel like a kid's game since it has been ingrained with the school program for so long, but this derivative of Earth's basketball is what forged many of the young MAFL stars, like Raedale Nash of the Titans.
For those unfamiliar with the sport, it's quite different than Earth's basketball. The semi-spherical court and central multi-rim basket were intentionally designed to take up minimal footprint within a habitat while allowing for continuous movement. It's a simple passing, vertical jumping and shooting game made for 1/3 G.
"There is growing interest in more accessible sports, ones that can be played in the safety of the colony", said Vay Mari-mara, minister of health programs on the Amrita council. "We are prepared to open a dozen indoor courts that would be open to the public. My counterparts in other settlements are exploring similar initiatives."
With very little work, Hoopz could be the game that fills in the gaps. Unlike the current flavours of sport, it is free of the many layers of complexity that come with outdoor infrastructure, equipment costs, or the learning curve of unfamiliar skills. When its time comes, it will have the added benefit of an existing, robust player pool; kids straight out of school.
The next time you find yourself in a conversation about future of Mars sports, don't forget to go back to the basics... support accessible sport!