What do you get when you mix air hockey, inline hockey and the childlike enthusiasm of adults who want to bring a life-sized arcade game to millions? You get a sports cocktail that is as delicious as it is refreshing.
MLive.com's Jeremy Allen (h/t The Score, Deadspin) reports on AirBlade, which is described as, "a new extreme inline hockey sport that takes the concepts of table air hockey and merges in with traditional ice hockey and inline roller skating."
As you can see in the video, this is what is hopefully being delivered. Air produced under the rink keeps friction low, giving the sport a fast-paced feel normally reserved for air hockey table time with your buddies as you smack around a plastic puck and knock back a few adult beverages.
For those who ever wondered, Why can't I be that odd-looking plastic handle that knocks the puck around, you are in luck.
The game should be familiar because the puck, as Allen reports, will resemble what you have come to expect from those found in air hockey.
More than that, there will be a "slot" somewhere at the end of the goal that will count for two points, giving fan service to those who play most of their hockey in arcades.
Of course, these kinds of things aren't born of goodwill and a love of sport. Mark Sendo, the CEO and founder of AirBlade, is hoping to raise money through Kickstarter and awareness through an eight-team tournament that will commence at Detroit's Ford Field at a date that is merely scheduled as, "late-May 2014."
If promising a debut at such a sizable place as Ford Field weren't enough, the tournament will reportedly be called by Red Wings broadcasters Mickey Redmond and Ken Daniels.
Sendo is even discussing options with Spike, ESPN and Fox Sports to host the event that Allen reports will feature a pay-per-view final.
If you are wondering how the end user feels about the product, Sendo states that on a recent test with local youth hockey players, "We literally had to pull the kids off the rink. It was a great experience for everyone involved. It’s got this wow effect that makes people delighted to even see it."
If all goes according to plan, fans will have yet another sport to fill their already busy calendar. Sendo states the impetus behind the hockey mashup was a New York Times article on a similar venture by Red Bull called ice cross.
The thought that emerging extreme sports picked from the best parts of other sports to combine for a new experience finally got the ball, or in this case puck, moving.
With a floor that blows air, the sky is the limit for Sendo who hopes this is more than just a passing interest for hockey enthusiasts:
This Ford Field event is really just a launching pad. We’re planning to host several tournaments this year and if we get the awareness that we’re hoping this year we’re going to start a professional league with this next year.
Red Bull's Crashed Ice, which is the sport that resonated so well with Sendo, combines hockey hits with downhill skiing, giving AirBlade hopefuls an idea of the kind of ambiance they can attain if successful.
It's going to be a great while before we know if life-sized air hockey is something we actually want. As Sports Illustrated's Sam Page puts it:
You can get the equipment you need to play on one, but unless you’re willing to put up a $349 pledge and travel to Michigan, you might not get a chance to use that equipment for a long time. This is one of those Kickstarters where you’re not so much buying something as being the change you want to see in the world.
One aspect of what drives us so vigorously into the fold of our favorite sports is a familiarity: the thought that we have played or could play in some form.
This sport may look and sound amazing, but it will only take off if the AirBlade rinks become ubiquitous around the country, which will obviously take a great deal of time to implement.
In other words, get on with it, because many of us are dying to try this thing out.
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