Aries 27, 2078, m249
What a 5 week whirlwind it’s been for ISMO Hockey! Our Panel of Martian sports experts weigh in today on ISMO’s hockey experiment. They discuss their thoughts on the new sport and how the reception may change after the next round of exhibition games.
Compared with classic hockey, one of the most visible difference of ISMO Hockey is the construction of the arena. Any thoughts on that?
Ion Miranda - Sports Writer and Analyst
Let’s talk about those ramped walls! ISMO officials made a big deal about the design of the sport and the rink, but it is no coincidence that there are similarities to the Aero Football, where players also play off the walls. Right now, the circular ramps are a blessing and a curse – They add a dynamic dimension to the game and reducing the roughhousing. When players are able to take to the air, it is like watching a Starskimmer performance, but the curse continues to be there aren’t enough skilled players to use it that way, so it amplifies the amateur quality of the sport.
Tsam Tiger Wiskle - Former Coach in Earth's East Americas Junior’s club
Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool—but I still think it feels gimmicky. I come from a Hockey purist point of view. I don’t see a point in messing with a setup that’s had so many years of success on Earth. Leave the fancy halfpipe to the trick skaters…when you actually have trick skaters.
Louise Pengilfinter - Analyst and Adjuct Professor at University of Marineris
One of the aspects of ISMO hockey that has come up again and again is the speed of the game. It actually isn’t faster rather it is more fluid. The rink design is a practical solution to the conditions of Mars. I think ISMO’s hockey prototype is by no means perfect, perhaps it is even silly, but as these players learn to use the environment, we will see the game evolve far beyond what we see today.
What do you think about the team dynamics and gameplay?
Tsam Tiger Wiskle
I definitely find the 3 on 3 a good choice. It leaves room for so much interpretation of play by the players during the game. This has been the smartest aspect of the game so far. I commend ISMO for making the effort to put this out there so soon. I wish they were able to invest more in skill development and waited longer before public exposure. It would have saved these test players a lot of embarrassment and present a more baked product for people like me to evaluate.
The fun part of watching an exhibition sport, especially one as novel as ISMO hockey, is that sense of trial and error. You watch these teams try new plays, formations, and strategies each game and it’s never, ever, boring. Traditional roles and positions are all out the window! Each of the players have specific strengths, but they need to be able to flow into different roles at the drop of a pin. This is what really weeded out the Sands and Phantoms in round one.
Co-ed teams seem to be a defining aspect of Martian sports so far. Many continue to scoff at the idea, but we’re at the tailend of the 21st century. Even in the MAFL we still see discrimination. In ISMO’s defence, according to Evgeni Stolbova, VP of Skill Development at ISMO, they didn’t receive an equal proportion of women applicants to the program, resulting in the ‘minimum 1’ gender representation rule. No representation equals disqualification, which is why we see so many women goalies. We should be beyond these kinds of rule. As we’ve seen with the Titans and now the Moles, diversity makes for more dynamic teams.
How was the spectator response been? What do you see in ISMO Hockey’s future?
Tsam Tiger Wiskle
ISMO is no MAFL, but it’s garnered curiosity. I would say the fan base should be traditional hockey fans—people like me who emigrated from Earth––but most are still on the fence. They love the familiarity it brings, but unsure of what they are seeing. I expect that someone will take the ISMO experiment and try to productize it into a league, but not because of its actual merits, rather because of the sport fever that has swept the planet.
I think a large part of the draw is that ISMO hockey feels much more accessible to the average Martian than MAFL—simply because you don’t need to leave the colony to play. In MAFL, only the best athletes who passed the indoor tryouts are given a chance even step outside into the outdoor arenas in EV suits. If indoor rinks become more common across settlements, anyone can put on a pair of skates. In this manner, the exhibition hockey has also been a plus. That the players are not super athletes that have trained for years adds that notion of accessibility. The “I can do better” can motivate players of the future.
Yep. I think ISMO hockey is here to stay. There’s still lots of kinks to work out, but the fan reception has been overwhelming so far, so I cannot see round 2 being any different. Suffice it to say—Martians are hungry for entertainment. This is the golden opportunity for sports, and I say there’s big void to fill.