APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 7 July, 1999


Commonwealth Games

Janne Kemppi

New Earth Commonwealth's Earth was a hostile place. Natural catastrophes, wars, pollution and plain neglect had ravished the Earth and changed the human migration and living patterns. Majority of humans then lived tightly huddled in large cities that have grown into vast urban sprawls. Biggest of all the urban sprawls was Rangstadt, a giant city that filled entire Mediterranean Sea and housed billions of people.

Rangstadt was an extreme example of urbanization and a good representative of modern human living patterns. This urban sprawl housed massive numbers of people very close to each other. Living space was premium. Nature had either been ruthlessly wiped out, or plain forgotten due other concerns. Life was fast paced and often stressful with problems of crime, pollution and alienation in this high tech society.

Majority of city dwellers (and thus of the population of Earth as whole) lived with little or no contact with real nature. These people might read about it but see little of it except pale comparison of few scattered city parks.

However, some people had the means to enjoy the nature beauty. These were usually the rich elite that can afford it. They typically lived in Central Asia around the lush greenery of Aral Sea in summers. In winters, people would travel to Yakutia. Center of Yakutia was Yakutsk, a city in the edge of glaciers, surrounded with endless forests and swamps.

Yakutsk had been the true heart of New Eurasian Commonwealth that rose from the ashes of the Human Concordat. Actual combination of scattered city-states happened first in Europe but the vision behind the NEC came from Yakutsk. In less than a century NEC turned from fledging collection of arguing city states across Eurasian continent into a fascist global superpower. Party provided ideology of willingness and urge to throw away the old and build new, supposedly better Earth. These intentions were backed up at first with city-state militia rabble and finally with battle hardened Regular Army equipped with GRELs and hover tanks.

Yakutsk was soon forgotten when New Eurasian Commonwealth celebrated its victory. NEC changed its name to New Earth Commonwealth and moved the capital to Rangstadt. This changed the outlook of Yakutsk completely, as it became a mere city for rich and powerful to pay homage or enjoy its harsh winter climate and unspoiled vast nature around it. Yakutsk tried to lure in various new groups by nay means necessary to fill its empty offices and badly depleted population. Sport organizations were also lobbied.

Commonwealth Sports Federation, organization that combined vast majority of Earth sports groups, made decision in 6102 that changed the shape of sports in NEC forever. It chose to run all annual Commonwealth Games in four cities. Aral Sea Combine would keep all the summer sports, Yakutsk would keep all winter sports, Havanna City gather all aquatic sports (spread across the Caribbean) and finally Rangstadt would keep all indoor sports. The CSF decision was greatly influenced by politics but surprisingly the end result was considered quite a good compromise.

Annual Commonwealth Games were pinnacle of sports. Top athletes from every corner of the Earth arrived there in every imaginable possible sports event that could be possibly run from motor sports to scuba diving, from track and field to chess. Arranging such massive games with tens of thousands of athletes and their equipment was equally massive undertaking with even larger numbers of helping hands and huge amounts of money to pay the bills to make all this happen.

Sports have been interesting to ordinary people throughout the history. There had been various kinds of sports and events related to myriad of reasons from religion and war to individual achievement. 62nd century is no exception. The huge size and sheer variety of Commonwealth Games ensured that the whole sports package became world's most popular sports program ever. There was always something new, different or interesting to see and to amaze. Games were broadcasted around the globe to ensure maximum exposure across all the political and economic lines.

This huge popularity made Commonwealth Games commercial success. It attracted corporate sponsors with deep pockets and various broadcasting companies eager to get their share of the advertisement sales cake. In the end the money was reaped in such a pace that there was no need for audience in the sports arenas themselves because television rights and advertisements brought money to pay ever more grandiose Commonwealth Games.

Amount of actual spectators being in sports arenas themselves has always been limited. First it was done in order to save the nature from roaming number of people trampling on it and destroying scenes. Later the limitation was done in order to make Games even more exclusive. Not only were there top athletes but also a selected crowd of spectators. By limiting the tickets sold and rising ticket cost to sky high, Games essentially drove away the normal crowd and became one where being seen became as important as seeing the actual Games.

This became yet another carrot for major corporate sponsors who saw dispensing tickets, and arranging suitable sideshows and parties close to games as a good way to make business contacts and spread good will to their advantage. Lavish entertainment soon became norm rather than aberration. It was estimated in 6112 that the number of visitors staying with 'sideshows' actually surpassed the number of spectators who went to see events on place itself.

For regular viewers who saw the Commonwealth Games through the television one attraction of Commonwealth Games had always been the setting by itself. Sport arenas themselves have superb architecture, there is lush nature present and the ever-pervasive camera follows the contestants in most dramatic way possible.

However, at least some part of the interest comes from the sheer exotic nature of unspoiled nature around contestants like in mountain climbing or in sailing compared to man made looks of indoor sports. Because relatively few people in Earth had actual exposure to real forces of nature, the angle of sports events took very different approach to indoor and outdoor sports.

Outdoor events were definitely set in nature. Forests and lakes and greenery were always present. Sports were shown as tests against not just each other but also against the very nature the athletes were exposed. Things like rain, wind or snowing would not stop things going on. Perhaps the only way event could be stopped was if weather got so bad television cameras could not cover it.

Outdoors events were sport events taken to level of extreme. Idea behind it was to beat the other guy and withstand the nature. Even through the weather was good in vast number of cases there was always a hint of danger lingering behind it. This danger was one of unknown because nature could not be predicted. Perhaps most dramatic moments in outdoor sports happened whenever forces of nature came into the game like messing parachute jumps with high winds or even with a storm. Nature was seen as tough but outdoor sportsmen and women even tougher. Pretty face never came into that equation.

Indoor sports on the other hand took totally different direction. In totally controlled man-made environment the limelight was taken from the event to the athlete. If outdoors the man was against the nature, indoors it was man against the man. Every single movement look of an eye and expression became as very important as the actual athletic event itself.

Indoor sports in both team and individual events are very camera friendly. They allow following athlete intimately, exposing sportsmen and women to the exposing view of camera. This intimacy led into whole new kind of athletic requirements. Not only would athlete need to show skills and prowess but also personality, quirks and flair to voyeuristic audience glued to their television sets. Extrovert style was expected, pretty face compulsory. Showmanship was the name of the game.

Despite all the media coverage excesses, hyped side shows, big money politics and sheer greed of corporate sponsors the Commonwealth Games had their moments as well. The best and most highest ranked athletes of whole solar system competed against nature and each other. There still lurked the idea to beat up their own expectations to get a bit faster, a bit better and a bit further. In the era of 62nd Century, it is still the best thing in sports humanity can offer.

Welcome to the future.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 7 July, 1999