Muggles allowed: These are the fictional sports you can play in real life

Not at all embarrassing.
Not at all embarrassing.
Image: Reuters/Scott Audette
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Thankfully, our televisions do not yet feature sports in which players try to avoid being chased to death by gladiators, a la The Running Man, or set out to murder each other at the behest of an evil global corporation, as in Rollerball.

But there are many people who take great pleasure in playing games derived from fiction IRL.


Hundreds of people took part in the British Quidditch Cup this weekend, which the BBC called “the UK’s biggest ever quidditch tournament” despite the fact that this is only its second year.

The sport derived from the Harry Potter books has been modified to suit the world of Muggles. Competitors don’t have to fly but must keep a broomstick between their legs. The Golden Snitch has been replaced with a snitch runner, who carries “a tennis ball or equivalent in a sock or velcro tag, tucked into or fixed onto their waistline” and spends the game trying to avoid the seeker from each team snatching it off them.

Tri-dimensional chess

Playing chess in three dimensions was introduced on Star Trek in the 1960s and has remained through every incarnation of the show:

Though the TV show never explained the rules, many have devised their own. Jens Meder has open-sourced his own rules for the how the game should be played and you can buy your own board if you want to give it a shot.

A Federation-approved 3D-chess set.
A Federation-approved 3D-chess set.
Image: Jens Meder

Though as Meder points out: “You haven’t experienced three-dimensional chess until you read the rules in original Romulan.”

Calvinball and Ultra-Cricket

According to the online magazine Mental Floss, many have tried to bring to life a game from the Calvin & Hobbes cartoon strip called Calvinball, a nonsensical game with ever-shifting rules and a commitment to being the least organized sport around.

Douglas Adams, in his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, created Brockian Ultra-Cricket, which inspired Tim Astley to set up Ultra Cricket in 1990s, which was played entirely over email.

While many of Adams’s tropes can’t be followed (“Grow at least three extra legs”), he did come up with at least once rule that every sport can agree on: “Rule six: The winning team shall be the first team that wins.”