The Future of Violent Sports

September 18 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future
Category: Culture   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

If there’s one thing NASCAR has shown the world, it’s that people will watch even the most boring “sport” on the planet in the hopes they’ll see a little blood.

The fact is, people like to see destruction. No, I’m not saying they like to watch death or serious injury, but they do enjoy dramatic destruction. Like it or not, seeing cars smash into each other at high speeds makes is exciting. Even crashing airplanes gets a good deal of attention on YouTube.

A quick glance at human history reveals that people have always had a taste for blood, from the Greeks with their Olympic Games to the Romans and their their arena gladiators.

Think about it. There’s a reason traffic slows down by an accident even though the crash has been cleared off to the side of the road, there’s a reason people crowd around a burning building, there’s a reason The Dark Knight was so popular (want to watch me make a pencil disappear?), and there’s a reason torture-porn movies like Saw and Hostel have raked in so much cash.

So what about our future sports?

We may begin to see more sports straight out of post-apocalyptic movies. With nanobots able to repair injuries within minutes and safety technologies advancing day by day, shouldn’t we expect sports to continue pushing the envelope?

Cities around the country could set up their own arenas, much like the Romans built coliseums around their empire. The Thunderdome from Mad Max could soon become a contemporary institution (in fact, real-life Thunderdomes already occur today, but are notably less deadly than the fictional kind). With such new sporting events, sports relying on violence for viewers, like the UFC, which displaced boxing, might find themselves outdated.

How far could it all go? Could it get to the point of, say, the ever famous Running Man which takes death row inmates and puts them through a gauntlet of deadly challenges, the reward being their freedom? Would future viewers accustomed to extremely violent sports have the stomach for such a program?

It do hope that sports will get little more adrenaline-inducing (similar to watching a season of 24 over two days) in the future, but not at the expense of human life – unless we develop the technology to consistently bring people back from the abyss. But who knows, maybe VR will get so realistic that sports themselves could become obsolete. Trudging across the tundra in a Mechwarrior might be enough for people to set down the remote and pick up the joystick.

Wherever we’re headed, I can’t wait for some more action.

Image: Peter Stathakos (Flickr, CC-Attribution)

Comment Thread (3 Responses)

  1. I actually see the opposite trend going on – the pussyfication of most sports.

    Posted by: johnfrink   September 18, 2008
    Vote for this comment - Recommend

  2. Ahaha! Nice johnfrink. I dunno, I think there’ll be more violent or dangerous sports (rocket racing league) but maybe the safety features will get so good there won’t be any thrill since the idea of the person being injured is moot.

    Posted by: martymcfly   September 18, 2008
    Vote for this comment - Recommend

  3. While I think most people are interested in the violent aspect of sports, I don’t really see the future of sports getting more violent due to safety issues. Think about it, if more people are getting hurt than family members will complain and file suits. We do happen to live in a society where the gut reaction for any problem is to sue. So sports organizers will probably cut back on the violence.

    Posted by: christinep   October 20, 2008
    Vote for this comment - Recommend