Living in a zero-gravity environment not only allows for, but practically *encourages* the ultimate sedentary lifestyle. For that reason, it's easy to overlook the exciting new possibilities for athleticism that a space settlement will allow. Thus, I propose the Zero-G Olympics, showcasing numerous entertaining
new sports, encouraging international (and interplanetary) brotherhood, and keeping the space-bound residents from turning into fat floating blobs. Despite the weightlessness of space, these games would still require enormous strength, agility, coordination, flexibility and timing, plus a healthy understanding of Newtonian physics. Here are the events I have come up with so far. Suggestions for additional games are welcome.
- Ping Pong - This would be pretty much like regular ping pong, except that both players hook their feet into loops on the floor to keep them from floating around. For a fancier 3D variation of the game, get rid of the net and give the table two side walls and a ceiling, so you'd be able to play off of four different surfaces. Then the players wouldn't even have to orient themselves to any one direction; there could be foot loops all around them and they could face each other from any orientation they like.
- Squash - Players would launch off the walls to intercept the ball in mid-air. Maybe the walls could be covered in the soft side of velcro and the players would wear one velcro-soled shoe. That way they could catch themselves with one foot and push off with the other. The softer surfaces would also slow down the ball after several bounces and keep it from being impossible to catch. As an added challenge, using a fairly dense ball would mean that the harder you hit it, the more it would cause you to spin on impact. Scoring could be determined by how many walls you get the ball to hit before your opponent could return it.
- Spacedancing (pairs and team events) - This would be a real crowd-pleaser. Not unlike icedancing, competitors would be judged on presentation, technique, choreography, precision, etc. The 'stage' would be a large ring - maybe 15-20 meters in diameter and 2-3 meters deep. The dancers would push off from the sides toward each other in the middle, then use each others' momentum to fly off in another direction. Adding spins, somersaults, etc., to one's trajectory would add style and difficulty points. Pairs spacedancing would be graceful and romantic and whatnot, but I think the real 'wow factor' would come from a six-member team performing a tightly choreographed routine. Think synchronized swimming meets Cirque du Soleil meets team skydiving. I've come up with several moves and formations which I won't bore you with here, but suffice it to say that it would be a veritable kaleidoscope of Olympians. Oh, and major point deductions if you miss your landing spot and instead get flung out past the ring and out of bounds.
- Obstacle Course Race - Since traditional foot races are out of the question, this would employ a gridwork of padded bars. Interspersed throughout the course would be a series of circular 'gates' through which one must pass, in order. One can imagine plenty of appropriate obstacles to place throughout the course, as well. If this isn't challenging enough, we could replace the regular, predictable grid of bars with a more random distribution, as it would take even more coordination and skill to negotiate a tangled web while on the move.
- Very Uneven Bars - In addition to the two bars parallel to the x-axis, there would be another one or two bars parallel to the y- and z-axes, as well. This would make for some interesting transfers between bars, as the gymnasts would basically have to orient themselves to a new direction every time. I'm not sure what to do about "sticking the dismount," but we'll work that out later.
- Laser Tag - Anyone who has read "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card knows what wonderful potential this game holds. They can also probably come up with some improvements to the way Card sets up the game. We have the resources. Let's make it happen.
- Magnetically Stabilized Curling - I'll leave the details for this one up to you.