We all have dreams, and many of them make no sense whatsoever once we wake up and think about them (if we remember them at all). Then again, there are other dreams that seem closer to reality than not.
Indulge me as I describe one that is not only fresh on my mind, but has become a bit of an obsession.
A couple of weeks ago I dreamed about a sport that – to the best of my knowledge – doesn’t exist. I only remember bits and pieces, but it involved kicking oblong balls at targets while players tried to catch them.
I know there were two balls in play at the same time and there were multiple players to a side. The field was grass and rectangular – similar to a football field, but not as long or wide.
When I think back on it I saw two balls (possibly the kind used in Australian Rules Football) being kicked toward circular white spots on the playing field. In one instance a player ran under the ball, caught it, and a red light went off, presumably signaling a score.
The images were so vibrant that I wrote them down shortly after I woke up and then started to reverse engineer the dream so I could fill in the gaps.
Obviously during this time of social distancing, quarantine and a complete lack of live sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not surprising I’d have a sports-related dream. I love soccer and have become a serious rugby fan as well, so you can make a case that somehow this “vision” was a combination of the two. But it’s more akin to a futuristic sport.
So what did I do with all this information?
Well, I invented what I’m currently calling “Target Ball,” a semi-contact sport featuring kickers, catchers and defenders.
The main object is for a catcher to shake off a defender and field a kicked ball inside a specific target. Making things a bit more interesting is that the catchers for each competing team are converging on the same target at the same time.
The tentative rules – determined after more revisions than I care to admit – are as follows:
* The field is 60 yards long and 30 yards wide.
* One end features three targets with varying point totals. The smallest target has a five-yard radius and is located at the center back of the field (60-yard mark), extending to the 55-yard mark. It’s worth seven points for a kicked ball caught within the target and four points if the ball is not caught, but lands inside the target. A slightly larger target (seven yard radius, located between the 50 and 43-yard mark) is worth five and three points, respectively. The largest and easiest target (10 yard radius, extending from the 40 to 30-yard mark) is worth two points/ one point.
* A catcher from each team is situated on opposite sides of each target (lined up on the sideline), and paired with a defender. In other words, there will be a catcher/defender combo to the left of the 7/4 target and another to the right.
* On the other end of the field are kickers representing each team, whose task is to put their catchers in the best position to field kicks inside the target. The balls must be of different colors in order for the catchers to know which ball is “theirs.” (In Australian Rules Football a red ball is used for day matches and yellow balls are used at night. One of each could be put in play in Target Ball).
* The first scoring phase involves the kickers – lined up at the opposite corners of the back line (0-yard mark), simultaneously punting the ball toward the 2/1 target. Once the ball is released the catchers and defenders from each team assigned to the target race from the sideline toward the target. The defender can block the catcher but can’t hold him, and once the catcher has reached the target the defender may not go inside it. (This rule applies to all scoring phases). If the kick fails to land inside the target, the play is over and no points are scored.
* The second scoring phase begins as soon as the first phase ends, and involves the kickers lining up on opposite sides of the 10-yard mark and aiming at the 5/3 target. This time they kick the ball from a tee (a spot kick).
* The third scoring phase starts at the end of the second phase with kickers stationed at their 20-yard mark and drop-kicking the balls in the direction of the 7/4 target. That completes the first session.
* The game consists of four sessions of the three phases, and the kickers and catchers must be substituted each session. For example, kickers from session one might swap positions with 7/4 catchers in session two, and so on. Defenders may also be substituted but it’s not mandatory.
* In case of a tie at the end of the fourth session, the kickers will line up at their dropkick spots and aim at the targets. Each get five tries to accumulate the most points. If still tied after the initial round, they alternate dropkicks until a winner is determined.
Since these games should be finished rather quickly (I’m guessing they’d last only 30-40 minutes or so), perhaps a day at the ol’ Target Ball park might include a best-of-three match and maybe even some doubleheaders. I don’t have two Aussie Rules game balls, marked field, or any other humans I’m allowed to play with at the moment, therefore I can’t say for sure.
So, is going to all this trouble silly?
Well, of course it is. People are itching for “real” sports to return and I doubt very seriously they have a taste for something new. This whole project means absolutely nothing to anyone but me, and the chances of it going from drawing board to playing field are slim to none.
Still, I feel kinda proud that I took a dream, fleshed it out as best I could, and came up with Target Ball.
After all, a little fantasy can’t hurt as we adjust to our new reality.