Chapter 28: Korendian Sports
21 Feb 1964, 1900 hours EST
Good evening, Bob Tonight we will break from our usual serious format and delve briefly into the lighter phases of life on our home world of Korendor.
"Our topic is sports of various types. You will probably be astounded at the seeming universality of some of these.
"Our first subject is a form of net game not unlike Tennis. It is played by four people in teams of two. They both have racquets and one ball is used. It is about a third larger than the diameter of a tennis bell. It is a solid sphere made of very light foam plastic. It is penetrated by several holes, making it very unstable in flight, which adds to the fun of the game. The object of the game is to hit the ball beyond the limits of the court, ten feet on either side of the net, which is approximately four feet high, and fifteen feet wide. The court is roughly twenty feet by fifteen feet.
[Note: the dimensions are very approximate. The height of the net is significant inasmuch as the Korendian people are short by our standards, with the tallest of them being under five feet.]
"If the ball touches ground outside the court, it counts for two points, and if it lands inside it counts one point. The winning team is whichever gains 25 points.
"There is an interesting variation of this, played on a completely dark court with a luminous ball and racquets, and the net glows faintly. The court itself is outlined in red fluorescent material. All glow effects come from overhead ultraviolet lighting.
"We have a unique form of basketball also, played with a ball of about 80% of the size of a basketball, but made of hollow foam plastic. Inside the ball is a small pool of water, which shifts about in flight to give unpredictable trajectories to the ball. The 'nets' are electronic hoops. There are four of them located at the corners of a square court of about 55 feet to a side.
"Usually there are two teams of six players each. Each team has two hoops on opposing corners, and can score only in their 'home' hoops. One variation of the game has four teams of five players each, with one hoop for each team. As might be expected, this leads to rather high-spirited contests with very little scoring. It's primarily for the young and excessively energetic.
"If the ball touches a rim and bounces off, it counts as one point. If it hits the hoop on the way through, it counts two points. If it drops through without contact, it counts 3 points. The score is tallied by a computer reading sensors in the hoops.
"It can be played in one of two ways. In the first, the team to get 100 points wins. In the other, the highest-scoring team after three periods of play adding up to one galun is the winner. The latter form is far more popular, because given the nature of the ball, tallying 100 points can often take several galuns. [Note: a galun is a GALactic UNit of time, equal to 72 minutes -- 71.9930524 exactly].
"A particularly wild variation of this uses an extremely light ball which is controlled by either sharp blasts from air-guns carried by the players or by telekinesis.
"In both cases, if the ball touches a player, the other team gets a point. The scoring is the same. The first is a great deal of fun and is particularly popular in the academies. While the air jets can be used to control the ball, they can also be used to deflect a stream from the opponent's air gun.
"The score is obviously very low in this type of game, but the spirit of both the players and the spectators is awesome. The telekinetic variation uses the same ball as the airjet game, but it must be controlled solely by mental energy. It isn't too popular yet, but we expect to see a gradual upswing. The air-jet game is at present the overwhelming favorite.
"We have no equivalents to baseball, soccer and football.
"Because Korendians are by nature very competitive, a popular pastime is racing. There are many types here, including one that you of Earth can claim to have originated. We will describe it shortly. The most common form of racing is with the personal crafts available to all. Usually it is over a hundred-kathali course, equal to about 48.1 miles. The course requires rounding one-thali-diameter (25.4 feet) pylons at the 1/3 and 2/3 points, forming a triangular course. The tighter a craft gets to these pylons, the higher the score obtained. The distance from them is determined by radar sensors within them, from the beginning to the end of the turn. The average distance is used.
"There are several classes, depending on the style of craft, the mass and the jet's thrust. Magnetic ships are in a class if their own. The course is very often completed in under ten minutes, and the present record is held by a magnetically-powered craft flown by an ace pilot, Sardi-Noram, who traversed the course in an Earth time of 4 minutes and 23.72 seconds, clearing the pylons by less than six inches.
"The personal crafts also participate in straight-line races over a 250-kathali course under full power. The record here is, in Earth time, 9 minutes, 46.869 seconds, also by a magnetic craft. The fastest jet time is 12 minutes, 55.624 seconds.
"The ground cars have their own races. There are two types of these, those with wheels and those without. They both use cross-country courses that in general resemble the typical sports car tracks on your own world. Top speed for the wheeled vehicles is 185 MPH in Earth measures, and for the non-wheeled, which are suspended by the air-cushion affect, 204 MPH. One thing that our air-cushion vehicles have that is unlike yours is extremely accurate directional control with little or none of the sideslip that characterize yours. There are computer-controlled high-pressure airjets that continuously correct for side motion.
"Power for these vehicles is either by very efficient turbines or by gravity motors, which we will describe in a later contact on power equipment. There is all the excitement of your own races, since no special equipment such as gravity drives or magnetic stabilizers is used. Of course, these vehicles are much safer than most of yours for obvious reasons, among them the higher speeds and our stronger gravity, which necessitates more structural strength in case of accidents.
[Note: a substantial portion of the original message has been omitted, as it described a racing sport that was nothing more than a fad, and that disappeared as quickly as it arose.]
"We have other sports, such as swimming, boat races and water skiing. In our short winter, we enjoy sports such as cross-country skiing, ice boating and skating.
"We must sign off now. We will contact you again very soon, with more information of general interest. For now, Orii-Val from SPC-12 is clearing the channel. Va i luce."
© 2008 Robert P. Renaud -- all rights reserved