North America’s mega-parking lots make cities hotter and, in many cases, more prone to flooding than they would otherwise be. By incentivizing car usage, they may also make cities more prone to traffic jams, air and noise pollution, and road accidents. And they are becoming emptier now than ever before, even during holiday shopping seasons, thanks to online shopping alternatives.
It is likely that companies like Walmart will redevelop parts of their parking lots in the years ahead, turning them into land for housing, more commercial real estate, or even parks and playgrounds and playing fields.
With that in mind, here are three new simple sports that could be played on redeveloped parking lot playing fields. For now, they exist only in dreams. If Walmart and Target build them, customers will come…
Wall Ball is an American variant of soccer. It can be played on a football field, or a basketball court, or a floor-hockey rink, etc. Goals are scored by kicking or heading a soccer ball or through a raised hole in a wall. 1 point is awarded for a header goal, 2 points for a normal goal, and 3 points for a goal scored from behind a three-point line.
The sport is obviously a bit of a blend between soccer and basketball. It is more like soccer because you cannot use your hands at all, but it is also like basketball in that there are no goalies, the hole in the wall is raised about ten feet in the air and generates rebounds on missed shots, and goals are worth either 1, 2, or 3 points. (There is also a ‘no three-seconds in the key’ rule, but, as in basketball, it will be violated frequently but called rarely). Unlike basketball, there is no backcourt violation rule.
There will tend to be much more scoring in a Wall Ball game than in a conventional football game, because low scoring games are un-American. The strategies teams employ may resemble basketball’s too. You might, for example, try to place a dominant big man in front of the net to score header goals. You might fill the floor with 3 point shooters to create spacing. Or you might create some midrange magic by finding a sort-of Lionel Messi-Chris Paul hybrid type of player. Flick-ups and bicycle kicks will both be very useful in Wall Ball.
The size of the wall, the size and height of the hole in the wall, and the number of players per team can differ from venue to venue. If playing on a basketball court, you can of course just use the existing 3 point line. The wall is allowed to be as big as the entire baseline, or it can be far smaller than that. There can also be some floor space in between the baseline and the wall, to lessen the risk of players getting hit into the wall.
For anyone who wants to play or practice the sport at home, or on the wall of their neighbourhood school, a circle can simply be drawn on a wall, or a hula hoop can be placed on a wall, or a quidditch-style raised hoop can be used, etc. You can also play it with a dodgeball-style ball, which will be easier to hit high in the air and won’t hurt as much when the ball hits you in the head.
Finally, for extra corporate shameless marketing, Walmart can use Wall Ball in its ongoing expansion into China, since China is a country that loves soccer, basketball, and walls.
Target is another variant of soccer. It can be played in parking lots, as well as in baseball or cricket stadiums. In Target, a fairly large bell sits atop a roughly 12-foot-high pole in the middle of a circular field, and players score goals by hitting a soccer ball into the bell, without using their hands.
Lines in concentric circles are drawn on the field. A goal scored from the innermost circle is worth 1 point. From the next circle out is worth 2 points. Then 3 points, then 4 points. A 5-point outer circle may also be added in, for larger fields.
If an opposing players’ shot deflects off of you and hits the bell, it is their goal, not yours. If however you purposefully hit an opposing players’ shot out of the air and directly into the bell, it is your goal.
You do not have to ‘clear the ball back out’ (to use a term from pickup basketball) upon intercepting the ball from the opposing team. You can immediately take the ball and attempt to score a goal yourself.
After a goal is scored, the opposing team gains possession of the ball. They start with the ball in the 4-point circle.
Overtime is sudden death, college-football-style. For example, if your team has the ball first and scores a 2 point goal, the other team then gets the ball and must score either a 2 point goal (to go on to a second OT round) or a more than 2 point goal (to win)
The other specifics – penalties, free kicks, the number of players per team, substitutions, the dimensions of each point zone and the field as a whole, the height and size and shape of the bell, etc. – can differ from venue to venue.
Rainforest is an opportunity for companies like Walmart to undo at least a little bit of the damage to cities and natural environments they have caused, while at the same time to defend themselves a bit from the threat that they and cities and natural environments each now face from Amazon. It is a sport in which the playing field can double either as a partially-forested park, or as a tree-shaded parking lot.
As is the case with golf courses, the design of Rainforest fields can differ almost entirely from course to course, and can incorporate natural features such as wooded areas, and even water. Unlike golf, Rainforest fields can be environmentally positive rather than hugely negative. They can also provide the players – at least in part – with shade and shelter, so that it can be played in almost any weather in cities with hot summers or heavy rains.
The sport itself is another variant of soccer, though its fields could also be used to play variants of sports like ultimate frisbee, hockey, lacrosse, capture the flag, or bicycle racing. It is played with traditional soccer nets and goalies and rules, and with teams switching sides at halftime. For any fans watching the game, cameras can be placed on the trees so that the game can be followed even when the action moves in to the more densely wooded areas of the field.
Just as Wall Ball could expand into the soccer and basketball loving Chinese market, and Target into the cricket and soccer loving Anglo and Indian markets, Rainforest could be well-suited for tropical, soccer-loving countries like Brazil.