Sports in the Slug Empire

By the time you’re reading this article, the Great Alaska Shootout will be right around the corner. You may even be reading this at the Shootout itself. One of the writers at this paper may have even handed you a copy before the game, being the self-promoting jolly people that they are.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written an article for the Shootout. For my first Shootout, I discussed the meaning of sports to both humanity and to life abroad in the universe. For my second Shootout, I gave a brief analysis of the different teams playing, having not had a sports writer at the time. You won’t believe how awkward it is to try and get a sports-themed issue on the stands without a good sports writer.

This time, I’m talking about something a bit different. I’ve already talked at length about Slug culture, so I think it’s time I talk about Slug sports.

I’ve mentioned in the past that we at the Slug Empire have giant gladiatorial pits that we send unruly species into to let them sort themselves out. What, you thought that our sports would be peaceful fare like basketball? Of course not! If you’re going to have entertaining sports, why not punish lawbreakers at the same time?

Okay, so it’s a bit inhumane. You have to admit, though, that seeing the great saber-toothed beasts of Trog fighting the laser dragons of the Outer Rims is pretty awesome. It’s not like we’re endangering these species, either. When a species is in danger of overpopulation, you thin the herd a little to restore the balance. It’s like hunting — only instead of hanging a trophy on your wall, you watch two awesome alien monsters duke it out to the death.

Everybody wins! Well, not everybody. I guess the losing fighter gets horribly mutilated. You get the idea, though. Dangerous criminals are punished, overpopulated species are protected, and we Slugs – and whatever other enslaved species gets the privilege to watch — get some seriously kick ass entertainment.

This is how a hive mind spends its leisure time. Just because we all think as one doesn’t mean we don’t get bored. If one of us is feeling daring, we might even assume control of one of the combatants to spice things up. The only way you can improve the “saber-toothed beast versus laser dragon” scenario is to give them both the intelligence and cunning of a slug.

With that said, though, I do appreciate the idea of the “safe” sports you humans play here on Earth. Apparently, there used to be big gladiatorial fights on Earth long ago, but I guess that’s not a thing that humanity does anymore. The closest thing you guys have to that is stuff like pro wrestling, and as adorably cheesy as that is, it’s really no substitute for real violence.

Maybe that’s not what you guys want anymore. It’s not the savagery that humans crave in sports anymore so much as it’s the clever teamwork or pride for the hometown. My host doesn’t watch much physical sports, but when he’s in a crowd that’s rooting for a particular team, he joins that mentality.

It could be that. It could also be something else, though. When you take brute force out of the picture, meta-games begin to form. Strategies are formed to counter other strategies, that were originally formed to counter other strategies. It becomes less like a brutal fight to the death and more like a competitive puzzle of sorts, like chess. Some games are just entertaining to watch play out, even if there’s not a team or player in particular you’re rooting for. My host sometimes hops on Twitch to watch a “Counter-Strike” game or two just to see the pros play it out, because in a game like “Counter-Strike,” high-level play is an incredible joy to watch. It’s the same thing with basketball.

This may not be the reason people come to the Great Alaska Shootout. Fanatics want to come all the way up to Alaska to see one of the biggest collegiate tournaments in the nation, just so they can root their home team on. However, if you’re reading this outside the Shootout, consider checking out a game or two. If the two teams are really good at what they do, it’ll be a really interesting watch no matter who you’re rooting for, if you’re rooting for anyone.

There’s a certain elegance to a good competition. I do miss the violence of the Empire, though. If you guys behave yourselves during the invasion, they may let you in on few fights. It’s not exactly humane, but man, it’s fun to watch.


Written by George Hyde