Bubble Soccer - A Derivative of Pure Hilarity

When I watch bubble soccer, I can only imagine those great Warner Bros. cartoons in which characters change into the shape of something they might collide with, be it a wall or a piano. In that kind of imaginary world, if you were about to collide with, say, a tree, going full force, the first solution that you might think of could be to have yourself suddenly wrapped in a big, bouncy bubble, so that when you collided with the tree you were perfectly safe.

Image credit - John Loo (Flickr)

This is the idea behind bubble soccer only multiplied by however many kids you can outfit with the big, puffy clear bubbles as they tear around the field. When the kids collide, one or both invariably go rolling around the field with just their legs below their knees sticking out of this classic, protective, plastic bubble.

Bubble soccer is hard to fathom until you see it played. Players wear clear bubbles big as a small car and run around colliding with each other as often as possible while simultaneously playing soccer? Yes!

Of course, the idea that bubble soccer is a derivative of soccer is about the same as calling disc golf a derivative of golf. Both concepts kind of miss the point.

Yes, disc golf is played along the same general lines as golf in that you toss Frisbee-like discs towards a hanging basket, which substitutes for the hole on a golf course. And, just as you use a driver to launch a golf ball for distances and a shorter iron or wedge club to propel a ball shorter lengths and a putter to navigate the greens – or even shorter lengths – there are different size discs that accomplish different tasks. Large discs go father distances, because they weigh more. Smaller discs are more agile.

A disc golf course is laid out to include various lengths for each hole (or basket, as the case may be) and to include various obstacles. Reaching the basket might require getting around a clump of trees. If so, the player is faced with a dilemma any regular golfer would appreciate: do you go around the trees or over them?

But it isn’t really golf. The skill set isn't the same. A disc is flat, like a Frisbee; a golf ball is a ball. Frankly, miniature golf, which "real" golfers laugh at, then take their dates to play anyway, is more like golf than disc golf, simply because you putt the ball on both the links and a miniature golf course. But golf is a very specific game that has specific rules including striking the ball with clubs. You can't pick up a golf ball while it is in play. You can't throw a golf ball to the green. Not allowed. In contrast, you can't propel a Frisbee disc without picking it up and throwing it.

Bubble soccer, for all that, is not technically soccer in the strict sense of the word. Generally, to play bubble soccer, players are permitted, even encouraged, to run into opponents with full force and to watch and even laugh at the hilarity of their opponent rolling around the field ensconced in a big, clear bubble. Sure, it's the game of soccer with some of the basic rules kept up to give the games some semblance of purpose. In bubble soccer, you can dribble the ball, pass to teammates, score and impose soccer's offside rules if you want to take it that far. 

Image credit - Tom Hilton (Flickr)

Actual soccer, though, requires throw-ins after a ball goes out of bounds. Bubble soccer generally ignores that idea because players would have to take their bubbles off to make a throw.

In a sense, watching bubble soccer is like watching soccer played by people wearing big hoop skirts or wooden barrels hanging on suspenders. It's played with all of the happiness and earnestness as all of those "run your sillies out" run-around games we played as kids. It's just fun.

Bubble soccer is frequently played indoors, where the ball is contained by netting or walls, anyway. It is also possibly one of the funniest games ever invented. So rules, like off-sides and out of bounds are tossed out if the players want to do so.

With equal amounts of comedic enjoyment, one can also use the equipment to play bubble capture the flag or bubble touch football or host any manner of bubble races. A variety of bubble roller skating would also be an interesting possibility in that it combines two activities in which staying upright is a challenge.

With bubble soccer, much of the energy on the field is spent colliding with other players, despite the location of the soccer ball. On many occasions, players would rather collide with someone else than chase after the ball, anyway. What fun is the ball when a friend is still on his or her feet and you have a chance to sneak up on them and give them a hearty bump, sending them rolling across the field inside of their own bubble?

Really, bubble soccer is a lot more fun than proper soccer. You are expected to run into each other and then suffer the consequences, which are greatly softened by the big bubbles worn while playing bubble soccer. It’s only a matter of time before schools, camps, and parks and rec departments are tracking down a bubble soccer supplier to help them create a bubble soccer equipment library. After all: anything that gets people up, moving, and having fun has to be a pretty great way to spend an afternoon, right?

Basically the soccer ball is supplied to give the players a collective goal. Points do, after all, get scored in bubble soccer just like they do in regular soccer. At the same time, Bubble soccer is so fun and silly that nobody really cares much about the score.

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