Assume there is a point in time when every planet in our Solar System consists of colonies. Each colony is inhabited with civilians that primarily serve the purpose of its colony. Some colonies may specialise in manufacturing, some in resource extraction, some in research etc.

Technology would exist to allow travel between colonies in a reasonable time, and comparable to travel times experienced on Earth. For example, Mercury to Pluto would take 10 hours but perhaps a journey between Earth and Mars would take an hour or two. Rough calculations would suggest at best it would be possible to go as fast as half the speed of light, although probably around 1/30th for most travel.

Each colony will have various sports teams. For example, 1 or more soccer teams, 1 or more American-style Football teams, and so on. Just like the traditional teams in modern times, each team will be subject to:

  • Player/Staff contracts (i.e. players sign contracts to play for a team, with the process subject to specific rules such as wages, player rights and so on)
  • Team stadiums (locations where the team plays)
  • Team ownership (who owns the team, being a single person/entity or even a "national" governing body)
  • Organised leagues/competitions (i.e. teams play in organised competitions)

How would a sporting body oversee all the sport in a Solar System (note: a Football body would oversee just Football, i.e. I am not referring to a single body overseeing ALL sport)?

What kind of measures would be put in place to normalise conditions, so that a match played between 2 teams in one colony would be in the same conditions as a match in between 2 teams in another colony?

What kind of organisation steps would be required to make sure a fixture between 2 colonies occurs (e.g. a Mercury vs. Pluto colony fixture)?

  • $\begingroup$ For sports competitions between humans from different colonies in the solar system to take place one would have to assume that some means was found to stop the different gravities (and other environmental variables) people from different colonies lived under vastly changing their bodies. $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2016 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ The most important thing is to make sure they hire honest people, we don't need a FIFA corruption crisis on a Solar System scale. $\endgroup$
    – Javert
    Apr 8, 2016 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Javert Corruption is always as fun plot point. $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2016 at 16:48
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    $\begingroup$ Good question and +1. Just out of curiosity, how are you solving the transport time problem? I used wolfram|alpha to find that it takes almost 16 years to get to Pluto at Apollo 11's maximum velocity. New Horizons took nine years. By the time the players get to the game, they're past retirement age. $\endgroup$
    – cobaltduck
    Apr 8, 2016 at 19:52
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    $\begingroup$ FTL or no? We need to know. $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2016 at 3:59

4 Answers 4


Our current Earth sports would be vastly different on other planets and moons, to the point where most would either be non-competitive or near impossible. Think of soccer/football, where a good player has fine ball control. In a low gravity environment, all of their small ball movements are instead sending the ball flying all over. In American football, every pass and kick would go 6 times as far on the Moon. This would make the game...interesting.

Barring some gravitational controlling technology, I think the most obvious solution would be to have competitive sports take place in microgravity. Every colony would have a valid location relatively close to them in orbit (compared to interplanetary travel). Since our descendants have populated the whole solar system, they have no doubt perfected launch techniques. Launches would also be exponentially easier from low gravity moons. Pickup games could still occur on colonies, with some modifications. Most "habitable" moons have a surface gravity of about .15g, which could be light enough to support practice matches.

Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

  • $\begingroup$ I love Ender's Game. $\endgroup$
    – ricksmt
    Apr 8, 2016 at 20:53

I've thought about that, and the first problem I stumbled upon is gravity. Each planet has a different gravity. That is a very real problem unless you can manipulate gravity at a local level.

I can see three ways to deal with that fairly.

A) Have pairs of matches, so that everybody plays home with home gravity once. If the two teams win their home match, you could break the tie by looking at the numbers of goals/points while away, or combined score of the two matches.

B) The match happens on a third, neutral planet. Said planet should be picked at random.

C) Alternatively, the entire season could be played on one planet. Say one year everybody plays on Mercury, next year Venus, etc.

That's assuming players are physically able to play on different planets, but then again if they weren't you wouldn't have a system-wide federation.

As for the legal aspects, it wouldn't change compared to how it works today. You have one body that edits the rules of the sport. You have one body that organizes international competitions. Ideally, these are independent instances, though obviously they'll need to talk to each other from time to time.

Below that you may have national (I say national, you can replace with planetary/continental/local/whatever) bodies that oversee the national leagues and competitions. If these bodies are members of the higher ruling body, then all the teams adhering to the national body get accessing to international competitions.

A good example of that is basketball. FIBA and NBA have different rules on quarters: FIBA quarters last 10 minutes, NBA quarters last 12 minutes. As such, NBA isn't a member of FIBA, and doesn't have access to international competitions organized by FIBA.

On the other hand, the Spanish or French national leagues are FIBA Europe members, which gives their teams access to European and international FIBA competitions.

At least that's the general idea.

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe a D) option for gravity would be some regulation on acclimatising to a different gravity. Although, I take your point regarding gravity. The problem reminds me about this: of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-altitude_football_controversy $\endgroup$
    – user19605
    Apr 8, 2016 at 16:21
  • $\begingroup$ @camelCase It's about the same problematic, indeed. Although now a lot of athletes go through high-altitude training so I don't think it would be a problem in your case. $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2016 at 16:31

Maybe I'm risking being simplistic here, but we already adress these same problems in a smaller scale if you swap each colony for a continent or country here on earth.

Fifa for instance, is headquartered in Switzerland but oversees its more than 200 member nations. Divide and conquer is possibly the best approach choice for solving this kind of problem. Each colony would have its own minor representation body that would answer to this central one and a representative on the headquarter planet. As for the rules, the central body would have its own rules, but they could be changed and extended to some extent, subject to the Solar System body's approval.

For games between teams from different colonies, I would suggest having tournaments held in only one colony each time, and no team from that colony could compete. That way you could design a ground that would be fair for every team. Besides that, colonies from afar could send even kids to solve the problem about traveling speed for great distances. These kids could be seen as promises for the colony team, and would be praised for their position. Smaller tournaments between nearer colonies could be held too, to increase popularity and the number of matches played in a season.

In fact, matches don't need to be all carried out in the same conditions. They can still be fair without this rule. If a comparison is needed between games in different conditions, you could weight each different possibility of each characteristic of the game. For example, games played in grass could be considered easier than those played on sand, and so games won on sand would increase points more than those won on grass.

  • $\begingroup$ Ironically, FIFA is also an excellent example of when oversight fails. $\endgroup$
    – Ellesedil
    Apr 8, 2016 at 22:47

Several posts have mentioned different gravity and other conditions that would make interplanetary sports difficult.

This can be overcome to a certain extent if all space colonies are standardized. Rather than living on the surface of the Moon or Mars, people may prefer to live in rotating colonies in free space where sunlight, radiation exposure and artificial gravity are all controlled to resemble Earth. Rotation and shielding are pretty straightforward (all colony will probably be built using the same template to incorporate 5m of shielding material and be the same size so the rotation needed to create a simulated 1 "g" is the same). Standardized templates for building colonies makes all colonies cheaper, and removes a lot of complications. for example, if every colony is the same size and rotation, then automated systems on spacecraft can easily dock with any colony in the Solar System.

Indeed, the only difference between colonies would be the size of the mirrors directing sunlight inside to illuminate the place, colonies in the outer solar system will need massive mirrors compared to ones in the L4 and L5 positions in the Earth-Moon system.

This also makes most sports competitive as well, since every athlete grows up and trains in the same sort of environment. Even allowing for the Coriolis effect on a rotating colony will be the same between colonies, and the only people disadvantaged would be those from planet Earth, who are not naturally inclined to account for this effect in their day to day lives.

This even allows for "new" sports to be developed, since the interior spaces of the colonies will have variable gravity, so "zero G" sports might be invented for the axis of rotation, and "half g" sports take place halfway up the end caps, etc.

  • $\begingroup$ only people disadvantaged would be those from planet Earth - that is a good point when considering standardising all the non-Earth colonies to have the same conditions. $\endgroup$
    – user19605
    Apr 13, 2016 at 13:52

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