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Space Entertainment

Zero-Gravity Sports League In Development 205

Jonathan writes "A company that provides weightless flights to paying space tourists is developing a league around a sport that is designed for a zero-G environment." From the article: "The sport is called 'Paraball'...originally short for Parabolic Football," Persaud told "The game really isn't like football anymore as the rules have developed, but the name has stuck," he added. [..] "The International Parabolic Sports League (IPSL) I plan to start with seven U.S. based teams, plus one Toronto-based team. Initially all League games would be played from the Las Vegas, Nevada airport, but we'll have 'home' games when the Zero-Gravity Corporation are able to bring their aircraft to that many cities over the time span of the league's season."
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Zero-Gravity Sports League In Development

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  • by rednip ( 186217 ) * on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:38PM (#14230805) Journal
    It'll be the only team sport where a airplane crash would take out both teams, the officials, and staff. Seriously, does anyone know how safe these fights are?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yea, the Vomit Comet (and similar planes) are just amazingly dangerous. I mean, that's why it's only been in operation for 30 years without incident.

      Commercial air planes are incredibly safe. It requires a major fuckup to cause a crash, even when doing odd things (like freefall.)
      • I once met one of the early German Rocket Scientists and he was a proud member of the group that rode the "vomit comet." They had a cute name for their club which at this moment I don't remember. It was something about violating the law of gravity and funny. Maybe somebody here will remind me of the cute name they had.

    • by spacefight ( 577141 ) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:52PM (#14230878)
      An airplane crash can kill both teams, the officials and staff on countless other sport events if targeted accurate enough.
    • by ImaLamer ( 260199 ) <john,lamar&gmail,com> on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:59PM (#14230910) Homepage Journal
      I don't know if I can take the ups and downs that come with parabolic football...

      (maniacal laughter)

    • The flights are pretty darn safe. I am a flight coach for ZeroG and I can attest that our pilots and flight crew are some of the best. The flight crew are an excellent bunch of cargo aircraft pilots that have undergone extensive training for parabolic flight. Parabolas that can produce zero gravity in the cabin require a skill and talent that is hard to come by. We've got experts, and I'd argue that they are AT LEAST as good as the NASA folks. As for the aircraft, ZeroG has gone through years of proving to the FAA that they are safe to fly. All aircraft mods have been approved by a Supplemental Type Certificate, and we have been granted permission to fly under Part 121 of FAA regulations. Moreover, NASA has been flying these types of flights with the KC-135, a DC-9, and other aircraft in the past, and have flown without any major incidents. As for the folks in the back of the aircraft, the flight director, coaches and FAA certified Flight Attendant, we are all experienced parabolic flyers, and typically we also fly with an an astronaut. Personally, I have flown with NASA several times, and I can say that my goal is to be at least as good as the experts currently at Johnson Space Center. Point is, we've all got 'parabola legs' if you will, and I think we do a pretty darn good job taking care of our customers in the tourism, entertainment, and research sectors. Have any questions...Look me up and email me.
  • by pjt33 ( 739471 ) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:39PM (#14230814)
    It would be nice if the article gave a few details about the sport - just basic stuff like the number of balls or players involved.
  • Practical Though? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by heli0 ( 659560 ) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:42PM (#14230827)
    "It wasn't a dark game, but it wasn't a bright one either-the lights were about half, like dusk. In the distance, in the dim light, he could see the enemy door, their lighted flash suits already pouring out. Ender knew a moments pleasure. Everyone had learned from Bonzo's misuse of Ender Wiggin. They all jumped through the door immediately, so that there was no chance to do anything other than name the formation they would use."
  • by vitalyb ( 752663 ) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:44PM (#14230840) Homepage
    The battle-school sport in Ender's Game [] is complex enough.

    I can even think of a few ways for the freezing guns.
  • Too bad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:45PM (#14230844) Homepage
    I really wish they hadn't done this yet. Zero-G sports WILL happen, but in order for them to take-off (no pun intended) it needs to be less gimmicky than on one of these flights. This is the sort of thing we will have once we have space stations and space tourism where people can easily travel and stay long periods of time in space. And I have no doubt that a new Zero-G sport will develop.

  • Zero-g football [], eh? Do they have a player called Jim Bexley Speed []?
  • by pedantic bore ( 740196 ) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:49PM (#14230862)
    I thought polo and yachting were the sports for people with too much money and time on their hands. Well, I guess times change.

    Anyone want to partner with me to develop league of swimming hamsters [] or weight-lifting mice []? Those are sports we can all enjoy (watching, anyway). They could be the WWF of the 21st century.

    But wait, let me patent that, first.

    • I've always thought that Segway could drive interest in their human transporters by creating a sport where players are attached using ski boot bindings [] in place of the handlebars and players do battle in a freestyle skate park. []

      But that's just me.

      And since I own this comment, I'm not too worries about any implausible prior art lawsuit that could arise.

  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:50PM (#14230870)
    In his research on space sports, Collins and colleagues have speculated about water sports where space tourists can dive through large blobs of water.

    In other news, many games eventually end up turning in to an impromptu old school favorite - 'dodgevomit.'
  • Finally, I have an excuse to name my twin sons Jim and Bexley. []
  • Short games... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 3D Monkey ( 808934 ) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @08:53PM (#14230883)
    Now if only we had a way to simulate Zero-G for longer than 20 seconds []

    Otherwise I see some really short games with some really motion-sick players.
  • by ggvaidya ( 747058 ) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @09:00PM (#14230915) Homepage Journal
    Paraball is seen as a cross of several sports...and has a lot of unique aspects too.

    • Wow, this is a great topic. We get Calvin and Ender at the same time! But seriously...When in high school a group of friends stared playing Calvin Ball. At first it was a joke but it became a game where quick wits and the ability to debate while lobing volleyballs at your opponents head was helpful. The game became a standard for my friends who wrote short stores, the frenzied, gooey and strenuous environment spawned creativity. A 0g version of that game would be a great way to inspire creativity in th
  • Sounds interesting, although I'd love to know what characteristics the ideal zero-G athlete would have. Would it help to be thin and light in a weightless environment, or would an earth-bound athletic build work best?

    Assuming zero-G contact sports appear, mass and inertia would suddenly make a huge difference to play, as would the ability to have three dimensional game areas. I'm surprised that space sports haven't really made it into mainstream sci-fi - short of Kirk prancing around arenas and the like. I
  • The losing team... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by oaksey ( 585738 ) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @09:10PM (#14230959) Homepage
    The losing team should get tossed out of the plane (with parachutes of course), with the winners just getting flown straight home. Would make it a bit more dramatic for TV.
  • In truth it's just mimicing zero gee. It's really freefall inside an airplane when you get right down to it. The major differences between it and sky diving are no chutes, no rushing air and you have walls around you to push off from. Oh you you don't have that sudden decelloration when you hit the ground. The nausea is worse than zero gees because it's the negative gees you get from falling. Seems like a pointless novelty but so is Reality TV.
    • Re:zero or negative? (Score:3, Informative)

      by cnettel ( 836611 )
      Sorry, but you get no negative gees from falling. This is no less true than being in a permanent orbit all the time. In fact, a plane doing this in the proper way is actually describing a very short part of a very elongated orbit. The only trouble in making it permanent is that this orbit intersects the planet surface.

      With an ideal point mass and any second object with any tangential speed as the initial situation will never crash into that point mass, only orbit it. If you are far enough from the point, y

      • I would like to point out that you can achive a negative-G in parabolic flight. This can occur due to turbulence or some other effect where the acceleration of the aircraft exceeds the 9.8m/s^2.

        Basically, what happens is that you get sent upwards toward the ceiling. In fact, a slight negative at the start of a zero gravity parabola lifts people off the floor mats in pleasent way.

        Trust me, I've done it ;)

        • "Negative-G" is a simplistic way of describing the experience of moving within the frame of reference of the plane's interior. What they mean is "differential acceleration of plane and passanger in a given direction" using the arbritary choice that "gravitaional acceleration toward Earth" is +1G because it is constant for both plane and passenger. In level flight the plane has an upward acceleration of 1G so it is, in effect, "weightless", meanwile the passangers arse still feels 1G of downward acceleration
  • by Sigfried ( 779148 ) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @09:32PM (#14231036)
    In "The Inventions of Daedalus" [], scientist and author David E. Jones [] points out that Xenon is a noble gas with a density greater than water. If you combine Xenon [] with oxygen and put it in a really big tank, you will have a breathable gas in a tank, in which human being can float. By combining xenon with appropriate amounts of nitrogen, you can get the density close to that of humans, and it will be similar to weightlessness. Wikipedia points out that Xenon has some anaesthetic effects, which would come in handy for those bruising scrimmages...
    • As indicated by the Wikipedia article you linked to, xenon has the density of 5.864 g/L at 0 C. This can easily be double checked using the atomic weight and knowing that a mole at STP takes up 22.4 L: 131.3 g/mol / (22.4 L/mol) = 5.85 g/L. Water has a density of about 1 kg/L.
    • That would be SO COOL. If you don't like the anaesthetic stuff, or if Xenon + oxygen is too rich and makes people lightheaded or something, just give 'em small little air canisters. Easier than underwater, but still seperate from what they're swimming in.
    • In "The Inventions of Daedalus", scientist and author David E. Jones points out that Xenon is a noble gas with a density greater than water. If you combine Xenon with oxygen and put it in a really big tank, you will have a breathable gas in a tank, in which human being can float. By combining xenon with appropriate amounts of nitrogen, you can get the density close to that of humans, and it will be similar to weightlessness.

      Wait, it doesn't seem like that would work at all. It doesn't look like Xenon has a

    • I think you've been huffing a bit too much Xenon yourself - if you even read the Wikipedia article you linked to, you will see that the physical characteristics of Xenon, in particular it's density, is 5.9g/L - water weighing in at pretty much spot on 1000g/L. Now, I'd like to see a gas that's heavier than a liquid, but it's just not going to happen.
      What would be cool would be a huge tank full of Perfluorocarbon [] which is the fluid used in Liquid Breathing systems []
  • by Perey ( 818567 ) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @09:32PM (#14231037)
    "The game really isn't like football anymore as the rules have developed, but the name has stuck," he added.

    Ahh, much like American 'football' then?
  • IPX Entertainment (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Here's the company that is behind it: []

    There's also a short survey there that may be a little simplistic: []

    Looks like this will be coming to us on bittorrent at
  • Because the vomit comet only has like twenty five seconds in a minute long flight. A twenty second long game may be about right for the average American kid nowadays but I don't see the entertainment value at all.
  • Obviously these guys are trying to break the rules. When it comes to entertainment, porn has to do it first. FIRST Zero-G porn movies, THEN sports. Duh...

  • by hagrin ( 896731 ) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @09:45PM (#14231091) Homepage Journal
    Does the world really need yet another elitist sport not played by the best athletes in the world and played only by those with the means to afford such a sport? How about we try using the thousands of baseball fields around the United States that go unused - even fields that exist in urban environments.

    Maybe zero gravity development leagues will be part of the 2006 fiscal budget for inner city youth to participate.
    • Elitist, sure, but what other major sports are like that?
      Kids get scouted in high school and get scholarships to colleges for football, hockey, baseball, and other sports. It doesnt matter how rich they are or what school they go to, if theyre good then a scout will come check them out.
      Hell, the NBA is full of kids who drop out of high school to play profesionally.

      Maybe another elitist sport is a good thing. If kids cant afford to play it, then perhaps they'll stay in school and go to college.
    • Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

      The world doesn't have to need it. Nobody has to need it, because "need" is utterly tangential. It's their money, not yours. Go take your egalitarianism, stick it in your pipe and smoke it.

      BTW, seems to me that squash [] would be a more sensible zero-g game than football. It's fast, simple, ballistic, and it only needs two participants.
  • ...but won't all those wheelchairs flying around hurt someone?

    Oh, you said "parabolic" -- I thought... oh, nevermind.
  • I love how they try to invent new sports, in order to make money. If a sport makes X $ per year, then we can invent a new sport, and also make X $ a year. This makes no sense, as people don't want to watch new sports. They've tried it a few times, and it never really works that well. Sometimes, you get small cult followings, but never do you get to the level of the mega sports that are currently popular. This is going to go the way of slam ball. Which was a similarly stupid Idea. Watching people dunk
    • There are some new sports that came out of a cult following that now have mainstream audiences. Nascar auto racing, Poker, Wrestling, and Ultimate Fighting Championship. Of course purists will argue that none of the above are actually sports. But you get the idea.
  • Pararena (Score:2, Interesting)

    by coldcup ( 15234 )
    There was a game for mac, around the time of the Macintosh Classic called Pararena. It was a single player, or network multiplayer game where you have two people in a bowl like arena and two goals, similar to soccer. Two players ride hovering platforms and fly around the arena, trying to get the ball into their goal. If you fall out of the arena, the other player gets a point. If you get knocked out of the arena, the other player gets a point.

    I wasted quite a few days playing that game...
  • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @11:21PM (#14231419) Journal
    The article didn't have too much info on Zero-G's service, so I thought I'd chime in. Basically, Zero-G [] sells flights on their modified Boeing 727 at $3,750 each []. Each flight has a total of 15 parabolas, which alternate between 1.8 g's and either zero g's, lunar g's, or martian g's; each of the low/zero gravity periods lasts 30 seconds.

    John Carmack, of id Software fame, flew with Zero-G last year and wrote down some of his thoughts []. He was pretty pleased with it, and got some ideas for his spaceflight company. He also recorded a video [] of messing around in zero-gravity. Here's an excerpt from his write-up:

    The time went by so quickly that you completely forgot half the things you planned on trying. A couple of us were doing low gravity judo throws, and I took a shot at the worlds first flying armbar in zero gravity (didn't work out too well). Most of us that were doing fairly aggressive bouncing around landed on our heads at least once, so I have some concern that they will eventually have someone test the liability waiver. The bottom line is that I highly recommend the experience, and I am almost certainly going to do it again at some point.
  • This is apparently done by artificially creating zero-G environments.

    Which can't be done for a very long duration at a time, right?

    What got me wondering first when reading this was how they can all get a game going during that short time, let alone start building an entire league around it! But then again, sumo wrestling matches are usually over within seconds, so maybe I shouldn't open my mouth here. :-)
  • I came up with this AWESOME sport where we could use military-spec Humvees to play polo.. But, the field would be the inside of a shopping mall. It would be awesome because the Humvees would totally trash the place. Also, the ball would be solid gold because it looks pretty and would be nice and heavy for the Humvees.

    But, the stupid venture capitalists said it was too expensive.. And then I have to see this?! WTF.. My game was WAYY cheaper than this proposal.

  • Zero-gravity pr0n is obviously the biggest business opportunity.
  • Space Corps Directive #34124
    No officer with false teeth should attempt oral sex in zero gravity

Of course there's no reason for it, it's just our policy.