Sport in Fantasy

Posted: September 22, 2009 in fantasy, writing update
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The grand final of Australian Rules Football (better known as aussie rules or footy down here in Australia) is on this weekend and it got me thinking about sport in fantasy worlds and stories. Man has played sports as long as they have been around – the Greeks and Romans had their Games and the origins of a number of modern sports such as soccer, rugby and cricket are centuries old. I was delighted to see in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World the sailors playing a version of cricket when they were on the Galapogas islands.

Many fantasy worlds and authors seem to glaze over sports – I guess that when you are busy saving the world there is little time to kick a ball around. Gladiator style games seem the most prominent, though other types of sports do crop up. Raymond E. Fiest has a soccer style game develop though a number of books, which is a nice touch, while other authors make up their own bizarre and often highly dangerous types of games.

In an effort to make a believable world I realised I had to include some form of sports to it. Of course, being Australian, this will be flavoured by what we play here, notably cricket and aussie rules (though most likely not exactly as they are currently played). Other sports will have to be played in different nations, so there is amble opportunity for other styles of sports and games to make appearances.

Speaking of aussie rules – I highly recommend people check it out of they can. It is a truly spectacular sport which is happily slowly gaining followings in other countries. Initially this was spread by the Aussie Diaspora but it is being taken up in numerous nations and now has proper amateur leagues in such places as New Zealand, USA, Canada, the UK, Denmark, South Africa, Samoa, PNG, Nauru, Ireland, Germany and others. It’d be great to see it become a major world sport – a dream I have if I ever became a successful author would be to actively support such moves.

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Comments
  1. Iapetus999 says:

    It used to be on here (USA) fairly regularly about 20 years ago, but now it’s all but forgotten. I’d love to see the final.

    I do think sports (or contests of speed and strength) do have a place in fiction. It definitely needs to serve a purpose in forwarding the plot. A sports venue can also serve the function of a bar scene or watering hole. I think any historical piece should include the sport of the time to add to the local culture.

  2. qorvus says:

    I believe that ESPN Classic will be showing it live and that in the US that aussie rules is growing again – its one of the healthier amateur competitions out there.

    Certainly it shouldn’t be added to the plot simply for the sake of adding it which means the current story I’m working on may not see it mentioned, but its worth thinking about in the overall context of the world.

  3. Beth says:

    That scene in Master and Commander is great.

    I’ve never given much thought to sport in fantasy worlds, but now my mind is going. Sports have such a prominent place in our lives, why not have a scene take place at a sporting event or while characters are playing a game if it makes sense?

    In high school, one of my teachers showed us part of an Aussie Rules game; I was intrigued. I hope to watch a game again–maybe live in the US!

  4. qorvus says:

    The whole of Master and Commander is great 🙂

    Sport is one of those commonplace everyday things you really don’t think about much, which may be why it gets overlooked – after all, most fantasy stories don’t revolve around the commonplace and everyday events.

    Defiantly worth the effort of watching an Aussie Rules match – if you can’t find one live, then the official website (afl.com.au) has full match replays available to watch.

  5. Beth says:

    One of my favorite movies.

    Thanks for the site! I’ll be sure to watch a match when I have a few moments.

    I’m tempted to write a fantasy story that focuses on the commonplace, not people off on some grand adventure. The sports, the diseases (off the top of my head, I can’t think of any stories that feature diseases that aren’t the plague), and so forth.

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