OK, from the FUTURESPORTS desk on last nights FT & The Lollards Of Pop we first take a look at Keirin which chief engineer Carsmile Steve cited as the closest we get to Rollerball in actual sport. OK, there is a scooter involved SOMETIMES, but as texted by Rick to us after the show, Keirin has been around since 1948, with the role of the scooter/motorbike often been taken up by a racing tandem instead. What soon transpires from the Wikipedia page is that Keirin is two different sports really. The super serious pro-betting sport in Japan, and the rest of the world who might do it in the Olympics. Accoring to a recent article on https://www.bestuscasinos.org/legal/nevada/, in Japan standards of fairness are a bit different and they are rigourously applied, in as much as all the bikes (bar the scooter of course) must be of identical standardised make. Which actually seems pretty fair: no knocking up bikes from washing machines in that version of the game. Basically Keirin is probably the purest form of velodrome speed cycling when there is an attempt to reduce wind turbulence* until optimum speed is reached. It also uses a repechage system for qualification, which is nice because repechage is a terrific word**. They tried to hold a Keirin race in London this year but nobody came.

BUT Keirin, for all its use of an electrical scooter (or what seems to be a gas guzzling moto-cross bike in that photo nicked from Wikipedia) is not Rollerball. The scooter is an extraneous thing, not used in the actual competitive part of the race, and there are no spiked shoulderpads involved. Want to play actual Rollerball? Here are the full rules, including technical specifications if you want to set up your own track and team. Also the rules to the version in the 2002 remake by John McTeirnan: rightly ridiculed by the web-compiler as they basically boil down to this quote from the film: “There’s only one way to score and that’s when a player takes one of the balls and flings it at one of the iron bowls hard enough to set off the pyro. As for the rest of the rules, well, the rest of the rules are Russian and complicated…” For completeness sake, here’s a short essay about the evolution of the various versions of Rollerball. There is an argument in these articles that Rollerball would actually work as a sport, and indeed that some of the stunt artists*** after the 1975 movie was a hit tried to set up a league. This article on the physics of Rollerball might explain why that might be a bad idea…

None of this comes close of course to Aldous Huxley’s Centrifugal Bumble Puppy. Not much is said about the game in Brave New World beyond the following, suggesting her was better at naming than gaming:

“The Director and his students stood for a short time watching a game of Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy. Twenty children were grouped in a circle round a chrome steel tower. A ball thrown up so as to land on the platform at the top of the tower rolled down into the interior, fell on a rapidly revolving disk, was hurled through one or other of the numerous apertures pierced in the cylindrical casing, and had to be caught.”

That said, it does illustrate muc of the point of Huxley’s book. It is basically a game of catch with a needless piece of technology in the middle. HELLO SCRABULOUS!!! But luckily the internet also being a version of centrifugal bumble-puppy someone has already written about this in a very Lollard friendly way. Read Citizen Player vs Centrifugal Bumble Puppy, as it weaves Huxley, 2000AD, the Arcade Fire and David Milliband into an interesting idea of what internet communities might be.

*Mentioned briefly in a second, the terrible film Slipstream notable for
a) Being a windy dystopia
b) Starring Mark Hamill
c) Featuring The Big Area by Then Jericho as its theme.

**Clearly a French method developed on the Planet Of The French so that they do not lose at all sports.

***One of Rollerball’s claims to fame is that it was supposedly the first Hollywood film to properly name its stuntmen in its closing credits. Leading to the end of the Unknown Stuntman that Lee Majors sings about here.