For those of you who never saw the sub-cult film Rollerball in the 70's I will summarise some of the rules of the game that it revolves around :
- a symbolic object is released onto the track to warm applause from the crowd (kept back behind barriers for their own safety)
- one side fields the sacred symbol and attempts to carry it around a designated track to a symbolic "goal". If they get it there they score a point.
- although only one person can carry the symbol at any one time, they can be protected by a rolling cordon of guards, or pass it on to a colleague if they can't carry on
- the rival team attempts to stop the carrier by any means they can (although, in return, the ring of protectors of the carrier are allowed to rugby tackle them as roughly as they like)
- helmets are worn by all competitors for safety, coloured shirts are used to denote the teams, fire extinguishers are optional
- although many competitors proceed on foot or on roller skates/blades, a few are mounted on bikes to make the game more interesting
- rival supporters cheer on the two teams and have been known to come to blows when passions run high
- the game is played City by City around the world although the exact rules may be slightly altered to keep the excitement up or if some of the competitors get "too good" (and to make sure the right side wins)
- don't be fooled by the slight physique of the Asian competitors - they have special Karate skills that make them particulalry deadly
- although the game is presented as entertainment the reality is that an undemocratic elite (or two) are organising the whole thing
- it all looks like boisterous fun but one day someone is going to get killed and we will have to wonder what this is all about.
In the new version of the game - brought to us by the Olympic movement and featuring the touring Beijing team - as a Londoner I was disappointed to see that we failed to score any goals/extinguishments when our rivals in Paris won 3-1 over the visitors.
Anyway, over to San Francisco to see if they can beat that. I recommend they use of one of those planes that drops water on forest fires in California.