To my fitness partners in crime, I promise I’ll have a fitness oriented post for you. Wait a second, shotball is a game. My game, that is. So, what exactly is shotball? Once more, for those of you who have been actively reading my blog, feel free to skip this section of the article. Shotball is a sport I invented back in 2009 because I thought the NFL was (and still is) getting too soft. I mean, we have players suing for concussion related symptoms after playing ten to fifteen years in the league, each year lasting sixteen games unless their particular team is lucky enough to get into the playoffs. Meanwhile, NHL players have an eighty-two game slate plus up to twenty-eight more playoff games, for a possible grand total of one-hundred and ten games. NFL players are soft, which is why my sport preference has slowly been shifting towards the NHL. And since Goodell has been single handedly killing the game, unless you count his thirty-two lodge brothers taking part in the big scheme of things, and the result is a modern day game where Tom Brady can play lights out. I’ve always wondered what Jack Lambert would have done to Brady had they played in the same era, and I’m a Browns fan plus a Steeler hater! This move to Pittsburgh hasn’t changed me in regards to the Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. And even up sticking up for Lambert here. But he’s a Kent State boy and I love my Kent State alums, such as James Harrison. That guy is a lifer. So, shotball is basically a combination between American football, rugby, and soccer. There is a little bit of everything in shotball. Heck, even basketball and hockey could both have their claims to the game in a way.
Anyhow, this is a fitness slash fantasy post, because it’s a sport with a relevance to my book series, Once. So why is shotball so important? It really speaks to the volumes of the characters included in the work. Let’s be honest and really point out that Cain, Lira, Micah, Marcos, Savannah, Korra, Jed, Asha, Scotty Volt, and Robby Patterson all have one thing in common: fit bodies. My love of fitness surely crept its way into the work, and shotball was it. It had to come out somehow, as I couldn’t simply write a fantasy and not have magnificent people within the pages looking like they could save (or destroy) the world. Sure, I had to make Cain, who is my own mirror image, a fitness loving freak who just lived for shotball. Lira, Micah, Marcos, and the rest were close behind in that category. Why? Well, think of it this way: what is our distraction from life? Sports. What is going on this weekend? The Super Bowl. What else is going on in the world today? Syria, Russia, protests all over America and the world about Donald Trump being President, a travel ban to the United States from select Muslim nations, something about Israel launching rockets into Gaza which happens every other day, and a lot of other stuff that is probably just now sniffing the forefront. But what is it that is being plastered in front of our very eyes every single minute of the day? The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. So, during the first book in my series, everything is tense, but there are some rather relaxing parts, such as the shotball season. Now that’s relaxing, distracting, and if I were Jackie Chiles from Seinfeld I would have a few more adjectives to add to that. Even if shotball appears to be irrelevant on the outside, it is very relevant on the inside because of the role that it plays in the series. It’s a distraction and it’s something else our characters can all focus on when tension builds in the book. Even if the future appears to be cloudy, at least they all have shotball as an outlet.
This is why I love the way people follow sports. It’s magnificent, because there are so many more problems on this Earth than an NFL season finale. Really, really think about this. The Super Bowl has zero impact on the lives of the millions of people tuning into the game this Sunday night. Zero impact! Unless you’re a player, coach, official, family member, friend, or someone close to these people this game has zero impact on your life. I don’t even care if you’re a gambler. It still would have had zero impact had you decided not to throw away your hard earned money on a football game that will mean absolutely nothing one week after the game finishes. Wait, one week after the game is finished? The day after someone wins the Super Bowl, my Cleveland Browns are on the clock. Give it twenty-four hours, and Mel Kiper and Todd McShay will be debating whether the Browns should take Myles Garrett at number one or Mitch Trubisky. Mark me. Personally, I say just take DeShaun Watson at one and one of the running backs available at twelve. I doubt Leonard Fournette will be there but that kid (can’t think of his name) from Florida State should. I wouldn’t say they would be the second coming of Zeke Elliott and Dak Prescott, but wishful thinking never hurts.
With all of that aside, I also likened shotball in Once to actual rivalries. For instance, in my previous post, I gave a very brief overview of the South Columbian Complex Teams and how they related to real life NFL teams. The same goes for the North Columbian Complex Teams: We have the Richfield Renegades (in recognition of the Washington Redskins), Richfield Stallions (Dallas Cowboys colors), Forest City Cursebreakers (Philadelphia Eagles colors), North Coast Sea Dragons (New York Giants colors), Hallsburg United (Green Bay Packers colors), and River City Monsters (Arizona Cardinals colors). For that, we have the five teams of the old NFC East (before the Cardinals went into the west), and arguably one of the more popular teams in the NFC in the Packers, who share a fierce playoff rivalry with the Cowboys, as seen in 1995, 2014, and 2016 among more recent contests.
In addition to NFL rivalries, I also tend to recognize other sports leagues as well. For instance, the second game between Matthews and Wilson, and the final game of their regular season, is known throughout North Columbia as ‘The Game,’ which was inspired by the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, as well as the Harvard-Yale rivalry. The final game of the year (not mentioned in the book due to lack of relevance) is a contest between the Richfield Stallions and Richfield Renegades, which takes place on Sunday night and is a nod to the Army-Navy Game, traditionally the final regular season game of the year.
Again, the pleasant distraction that is provided by shotball coincides very well with what we are distracted by in real life. Cain, Lira, and the rest of the crew love shotball and even in times of turmoil, are doing whatever they can to win the Summit Bowl and claim the SSL Championship. They would be one-hundred percent focused on the growing tensions and conflicts seen in Once, but shotball is still that distraction, as well as the outlet, that allows our main characters a sense of relief in what will be an epic tale of Once.