America paved over a big chunk of the West, creating cities like Los Angeles (its largest sprawling city) and Phoenix (its sprawlingest large city). It created huge parking lots for its cars, among other mistakes. These days, though, because of online shopping, transportation apps, and the possibility of self-driving vehicles (or at least, robo-valets) those overbuilt lots may eventually be built over. Some will become homes, some (drought permitting) gardens. And some could be used for sports.
So, here’s a future sport you can play in the vacant mega-lots of American superstores. It’s called Gunslinger:
How to Play
- Each team has 3 Racketeers, 2 Sticklers, and 1 Lone Gunslinger. The Racketeers carry tennis rackets. The Sticklers carry hockey sticks. The Gunslinger carries a hockey stick too, but also has a tennis racket sheathed in a case slung over his or her shoulder, which he or she can draw and re-holster at will
- All players wear roller-skates
- The ball is a tennis ball
- The rink dimensions are roughly the size of a football pitch or NFL field
- The goal is a quidditch-style hoop. The height of the hoop should be such that an athletic racketeer should be able, with good timing, to block a goal by jumping up with his or her racket raised in the air. The hoop should be surrounded by a small zone forbidden to the opposite team, to prevent defenders from causing injuries when they jump
- The rink surface is clay.. or something.
- The rink can be (but does not have to be) surrounded by boards/walls, which the players can hit the ball off of in strategic ways …and which the players can check one another into if you are playing full-contact Gunslinger. The height of the boards/walls can differ from rink to rink as much as you want, as can the number of sides which have boards/walls.
- Penalties are similar to hockey: the offending player is sent to the penalty box for a fixed amount of time
- High-sticking is not allowed for Sticklers or Gunslingers. Slashing is not allowed at all
- If a Gunslinger drops his/her stick or racket on the ground, he/she is not allowed to play the ball until is picked back up again
- Player substitutions are similar to hockey: they can be made ‘on the fly’
- Racketeers and Sticklers can also swap their utensils on the fly – e.g. handing their stick to someone on their bench and being handed a racket instead – so long as there are always 3 Racketeers and 2 Sticklers on the rink at any time
- There is no such thing as being offside
- Refs sit in tennis-style high-chairs spread out around the walls of the rink
- Overtime: First team to score wins. Overtime starts with a Gunslinger faceoff at centre-court
- Out of bounds: if a player knocks a ball out of bounds, a Racketeer on the opposite team gets to serve the ball inbounds from the side of the rink (sort of like a corner kick) in roughly the same spot the ball went out of bounds. If it is difficult to tell which team knocked the ball out, then there is a faceoff, which Sticklers or Gunslingers can compete in
- After a goal is scored, the opposite team gets to start with the ball behind their own goal line, and the team that scored is not allowed to cross the goal line to interfere
- THE GUNNER: if possible, you can also play Gunslinger with a Gunner. Each team’s Gunner sits high up behind their own goal line, armed with a tennis-ball-shooting cannon which the Gunner’s job is to aim and fire. Anytime a goal is scored, or any time a ball is knocked out of bounds along the goal line, the Gunner on that side gets to start play again by firing a ball back in play. It’s an important skill position: a good Gunner will be able to aim with precision and speed to give one of his teammates a useful outlet pass
Well, there it is: Gunslinger. Should be fun. It’s a simple, speedy game of sharpshooting skill — yet also a game with a cat-and-mouse sort of strategy. Sticklers and Gunslingers will have an advantage when the ball is on the ground; Racketeers when the ball is in the air. Each team will have 3 of each (3 racketeers; 2 Sticklers + 1 Gunslinger). And, of course, that Lone Gunslinger will have to be especially skillful and cool. As any Gunslinger worth the name must be.