15 Coolest Future Sports

Eric NewmanCorrespondent IIIFebruary 23, 2012

15 Coolest Future Sports

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    The world, she is a'changin'.





    And with these changes come new opportunities.

    Experts predict affordable space tourism is just a few decades away.

    Colonies on the moon and Mars may come soon after.

    Invisibility. Bionics. Flying cars. All on their way.

    Skeptical? Think it's just the stuff off sci-fi novels?

    News flash: Most of our technology was imagined by artists before it was developed by scientists. Think of Isaac Asimov and robots. Think of Da Vinci and his air screw (aka helicopter), think of ear buds and Ray Bradbury's thimble radios from Farenheit 451.

    To invent it, you have to dream it up first.

    Readers, sports fans, click on for a glimpse at what humankind has dreamt up for the future of athletics.

Honorable Mention: Moon Golf

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    On February 6, 1971, astronaut Alan Shepard took a couple of swings with a six iron he had smuggled aboard the Apollo 14 in his spacesuit.

    According to Shephard, he drove the balls, "miles and miles and miles."

    Click here to watch the first round of lunar golf.

    As lunar tourism becomes a reality, marketers are already thinking about how to set up and offer golf trips to the moon. 

Honorable Mention: Ice Floe Jumping

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    As the polar regions continue to warm up, Arctic communities are noting a spike in tourism; it's something the Smithsonian magazine has dubbed "climate change tourism."

    Couple the increase in visitors with the increase in ice floes as massive bergs break up in the warmer temperatures, and the extreme sport of ice floe jumping seems all but inevitable.

15. Urban Surfing

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    A company called VentureXtreme planned a massive surf center to be located right in downtown London on the Thames River.

    Before the economic downturn, the project was a go and had been due to open in 2011.

    Currently, the project is looking for a new home.

    The facility, if built, will be complete with a wave pool, a surf pool (capable of churning up some six-foot bombs for the big kahunas), and a white sand beach.

14. Hover Boarding

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    First popularized in Back To The Future II, the hoverboard has now become every surfer/skateboarder/snowboarder's dream. Well, the wait might be over soon.  

    Low-tech versions already exist. 

    But the real deal is in development, too. Check out this design by French artist Nils Guadagnin.

    A 2009 article in Popular Mechanics runs through the various existing and in-development technologies for hoverboarding.

13. Low Gravity Soccer

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    The Earth's most popular sport is going to need some revamping if it's to be played off world.

    Otherwise the ball will be lost to deep space on the first kick.

    As you can see in the video above, scientists have already put together a ball outfitted with gyroscopes to compensate for the lack of gravity. 

    Other great minds are already hard at work, re-envisioning the "physical and physiological parameters" in which the non-terrestrial version of soccer will be played.

    Players beware: Yellow cards will be issued for scuffing up the roof of the stadium with the bottoms of your cleats.

12. Race Car Flying

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    Yeah, the flying car may very well be the first of these exciting new technologies that you get to partake of.

    Flying cars, also known as "roadable aircraft" or PAVs (personal air vehicles), currently exist in prototype forms.

    One model, the Terrafugia, has already made a maiden voyage. Its maker claims it can achieve highway speeds of 65 miles per hour and transform from car to plane in just 30 seconds.

    Check out this cool Terrafugia promo video.

    Once the commuter-type model is perfected, racing models would be the logical next step.

    Imagine watching the Monaco Grand Prix with a dual track—one set of cars ripping through the streets of Monaco, while another whizzes through the same circuit above your head.

11. Enhanced Tennis

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    This incredible Lacoste ad campaign imagines tennis in the year 2083.

    The racket has a powerful magnetic field, the smart shoes have "control capacities."

    Serves are smashed volley-style and reach speeds of well over 200 miles per hour. Ball trajectories don't seem to follow the standard rules of physics.

    Diving and rolling returns are common.

    Granted there is far more flash than substance to the ads, but enough is put forth to get tennis fans and futurists drooling.

10. Swimming in Artificial Gravity

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    What good is a hotel with no pool?

    What fun are the Olympic Games without swimming events?

    Hey if we're moving off-world, we're taking swimming with us.

    There's just the little issue of no gravity. 

    Well, a group of scientists at the National Space Development Agency, in Hamamatsu-cho, Tokyo, have written a scientific paper on how to build an artificial-gravity pool.

9. Low Gravity Gymnastics

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    Who needs steroids when you've got a 66 percent decrease in gravity?

    Imagine the tumbles, the flips, the leaps gymnasts could take.

    Online Think Tank founder Lance Winslow suggests there could be gymnastic training camps on the moon to help terrestrial gymnasts hone their skills and avoid injury.

8. Cyborg Soccer

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    OK, so this creepy, dystopian ad may be a little far-fetched, but bio-electronics has made shocking advancements.

    "Tomorrow's people," already exist. They are the blind who can see, the deaf who can hear, the paralyzed who can move their limbs—all thanks to bionic devices.  

    So bionics can replace lost senses and lost limbs, but can they actually make you faster, more dextrous, more powerful?

    MIT professor Hugh Herr (himself missing both legs below the knee) says the days of Tiny Tim pity are gone. No longer will you see some poor child struggling on poorly made stilts. The new machines are becoming so lustrous and efficient that some people would even consider chopping off perfectly good limbs to get one.

    Yes, people bionics can make us faster, stronger, an according to Herr, more alluring than we were before.

    Still not convinced? Check out this ESPN article that informs us, "The prosthetic-enhanced athlete will be able to run faster, jump higher and pitch harder than mere mortals."

7. Lunar Dust Skiing

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    Skiing and boarding on volcanic dust is already a craze here on Earth, so why not on the moon?

    Apparently the Apollo moon astronauts were somewhat obsessed with the possibilities of skiing up there.

    Jim Irwin of Apollo 15 said his lunar landing site reminded him of an Idaho ski resort.

    John Young of Apollo 16 said driving the buggy over lunar soil was like driving on snow.

    Apollo 17 geologist Harrison Schmitt lamented that he didn't have his skis up there with him.

    Mountains on the moon such as Mons Hadley (15,093 feet) and neighboring Mons Hadley Delta (11,484 feet) are covered in deep powder.

    Just think of it: pristine slopes, no wind, and no real need for a chairlift—you can just bounce your way up the slope.

6. Lunar or Martian Spelunking

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    Spelunkers take delight!

    Both the moon and Mars are probably rife with caves to explore.

    Currently the moon caves are more of a focus as it's speculated that a whole network of lava tubes exist beneath the moon's surface.

    That excites scientists as it would provide a pre-excavated site for a lunar base or colony.

    It excites spelunkers as NASA would need some experienced cavers to get in there and check things out.

5. Space Diving

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    You saw it in the latest Star Trek movie, you oohed you aahed, you wished it were real.

    Well, it is. 

    Space diving—coming soon to a launch site near you.

    In August of 2012, daredevil Felix Baumgartner will leap from a balloon 120,000 feet (23 miles) above the Earth. He'll be wearing a space suit to protect him from the -70°C temperatures and the extreme pressure of hitting a free fall speed of Mach 1.

    According to The Sun newspaper, a leak in the suit "would make his eyes boil and his heart explode."

    The next step would be skydiving from actual orbit around the Earth.

    And experts are already at work developing the technology to make that happen.

4. The 8 Summits

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    Climbing the highest peak on each continent? Old news. the Seven Summits Challenge is officially passe. Heck, even a 15-year-old has done it.

    Time to move on mountaineers; try the Eight Summit Challenge. That's right eight for each of the eight planets. 

    Among the eight summits mountaineers would have to face, is Olympus Mons, tallest mountain in the solar system. How tall, you ask? Well take Mt. Everest and put another Mt. Everest on top of it...oh yeah, and then put one more Everest on top. 

    That's right at 88, 580 feet. Olympus makes our Earthling peaks feel...not so well endowed. 

    The Earth and Space Foundation actually offers an award for the first mountaineering team to make a successful attempt of Olympus Mons.

3. Teleportation Geocaching

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    Geocaching is already a sport of the modern age. For those unfamiliar, it is basically hide-and-seek using GPS devices.

    But when teleportation technology become widely available (yes, it is in the works), why not hide caches all over the world? 

    8 am: Round 1 in the Malaysian rain forest.

    10 am: Round 2 in Utah canyon country.

    12-1pm: Break for lunch.

    1 pm: Round 3 on the Siberean tundra.

    3 pm: Round 4 on the streets of Copenhagen.

    If a tiebreaker round is needed, the final box will be cached somewhere in Morocco's Atlas Mountains.

2. Light Saber Fencing

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    Finding out that lightsaber technology could never really exist is an awful moment in your childhood—worse even than learning Santa doesn't exist.

    "Lasers could not be contained that way," we've heard over and over from the realists.

    Yeah, well, fie on you, skeptics!

    There are just too many scientists out there, absolutely fierce with determination to make the universe's favorite weapon a reality.

    Check out this comment on a GE Global Research Blog:

    If I were trying to build [a lightsaber] and had immense hand power available, I would probably build a powerful hand electron LINAC. The electrons would make a nice directed plasma coming out the end and I could control the plasma length by controlling the electron energy (i.e., electron penetration depth in air) and the total power by the electron density and electron energy. I could do this with other charged particles, too.

    If that doesn't give you hope, what would?

1. Invisible Football

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    The science of invisibility has come so far, so fast, it's almost frightening.

    And the sporting world is taking note. Already at least one sports book is thinking about the repercussions of invisibility permeating athletics, and even taking bets on when the first invisibility sports scandals will emerge. 

    On the more optimistic side, invisibility could be legitimately incorporated into sports rather than used to cheat.

    There's NFL football, arena football, lingerie football. Why not invisibility football? Invisibility would likely be used as a limited asset, like a time out. For example, a team might get to cloak one receiver for a total of two plays per half.

    "No, you idiots! Don't waste your last cloak now; save it for the end of the fourth quarter."