Soccer is the most popular sport on the planet, so it was only a matter of time before someone invented a full-contact version in which participants wear translucent orbs. According to Wikipedia, bubble soccer (or bubble football, body bumper ball) is “the recreation or sport of playing football whilst encased in an inflated torus, similar to a zorb, which covers the player’s upper-body and head.” This is no ordinary soccer. It’s soccer bubble – soccer in a bubble, exactly as it sounds. The faux-sport has begun to make a name for itself around the world this year, somewhat inexplicably.
As for the game itself, bubble football more or less resembles traditional soccer, the obvious impediment notwithstanding. But the sport isn’t really the focus: crashing is. I bolted toward my wife and moved in for a light check. One tap and she went flying – off her feet and, with an almost audible boing, onto her bubble-protected back.
This is the joy of bubble soccer. Players can knock one another around like bumper cars. It was ludicrously fun with just the two of us on the pitch. With 12 players I have to assume it would be madness.
If you’ve never been encased inside an inflatable gerbil ball—and hopefully you haven’t—it’s not a graceful experience. Turns out plastic globes are surprisingly heavy, and running without the use of your arms totally throws off your center of gravity. So when someone—say, your deliriously overjoyed 12-year-old son—plows into you, it’s like you’ve just chest-bumped a sumo wrestler, splat! Luckily, the learning curve is quick: You’ll start off tentative, get comfortable, and eventually feel invincible. “When we first did it,” says Neukam, “we were like, ‘we could go downtown and fight crime in these things!’”