- DJ Gallo, ESPN.com
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The zombie show “The Walking Dead” resumed its third season Sunday night. The series follows the story of survivors in a world dominated by “walkers.”
Although “The Walking Dead” has many positive aspects to it and routinely receives critical praise, the series -- and all zombie shows and movies that came before it -- completely fails to address how the sports world would be impacted by a zombie uprising.
It’s time someone asks these hard questions.
Will sports exist in a post-zombie uprising hellscape?
Most definitely. Sport endures wars, disease and famine. Sport provides humanity with necessary diversion, allowing us to forget our worries for a bit and come together as one. We would need that diversion more than ever when the vast majority of humanity has turned into mindless, flesh-eating zombies bent on our destruction. If anything, sports might become MORE popular and MORE necessary in a zombie-ridden dystopia.
How would a zombie apocalypse affect the current sports landscape?
Contraction in every league would be a necessity, what with many players becoming zombies. Fewer athletes equals fewer teams. Also, the schedule would have to change so that teams played their away games within the shortest possible distances. Scouting for supplies is hard enough with zombie hordes around every corner. Teams would regularly be on the move. Many interstates, train stations and airports would be closed or overrun -- not to mention stadiums and arenas. Long road trips would be a true nightmare. It’s bad enough that the Winnipeg Jets have to travel thousands of miles to play division games now. Imagine the difficulties when there would be millions of zombies to avoid between Winnipeg and Raleigh, N.C.
No, contraction and divisional realignment would have to occur and championships would likely feature teams that hadn’t played each other during the season -- like how the World Series used to be.
Player salaries would have to fall more in line with normal human compensation, as well. You can’t pay a guy $15 million to pitch every fifth day if there is no banking system left and economic activity is based on bartering. Athletes won’t be playing for the next big contract anymore. They’ll be playing solely for the love of the game. Lockouts and labor disagreements would be a thing of the past.
How would a zombie apocalypse affect the fan experience?
Those of us who survived would likely be unable to watch sports on television, assuming broadcast TV and even electricity would be scarce or completely knocked out.
The only way to see games would require a risky trip to a stadium. Stadiums would therefore be full of true die-hards. The casual, pink-hat and corporate fans would stay at home in safety. With every fan in attendance a die-hard, the crowd atmosphere would be amazing. Playoff atmosphere. Every game.
Of course, there would still be some class stratification. Luxury boxes would continue to exist for those who could afford them or trade items of worth to sit in them. The luxuries would be a cold shower, potable water, ammunition and canned goods.
Fan promotions would be as popular as ever, too -- if not more so. Fans don’t even need the free crap given away at games now to survive, yet they still come in droves to get stuff. Now imagine a post-zombie apocalypse. Who wouldn’t try to make it out to the stadium on a night when the first 100 in attendance get a free knife or canteen? Bobbleheads would probably still be popular, too, because a bobbling head is never not amusing -- especially in a world in which you have to chop off heads to survive. Dark humor rules the day in apocalyptic times.
How would the zombie apocalypse affect the sports media?
Faced with imminent death every second of every day, sports media members would probably be less likely to yell and overreact about the outcomes of sporting events, leading to a rise in measured, fair and thoughtful coverage. The zomocalypse would allow the media and fans to finally put sports in its proper context in society as fun entertainment that brings communities together. We would also be less likely to harshly criticize poor player performance, as the day-to-day reminder of the fragility of life would force us to appreciate all forms of athletic ability and human physical feats.
Would zombies play sports?
No doubt survivors of zomageddon would have hard feelings toward the zombies. They wouldn’t likely immediately welcome them onto the field of play. And that’s understandable. “Hey, you just tried to eat my face. Care to sub in?”
But all it would take is one coach to figure out a way a zombie could help his team and we’d have our first zombie professional athlete. We humans will put any grudges aside if doing so helps our team win.
Now, if zombies were allowed to play, we would have to take far-reaching steps to make our games safer. The zombie athletes -- or zomletes -- would have their teeth removed or mouths barred shut to prevent bites, while human athletes would need to be outfitted in the finest protective gear available.
What sports or positions would zombies play?
It’s tough to say. Modern sports revolve around speed. Zombies are not fast. They are slow and plodding -- but stubborn and determined. At the very least, some zomletes would find their way onto Big Ten football teams at the skill positions.
Beyond that, five fat zombies could form a decent offensive line, always marching forward, wearing the opponent down.
Tall zombies could be adequate NBA reserve big men, taking up space, dishing out some fouls, maybe blocking a shot or two. (Think Byron Mullens, but slightly more lifelike.)
Then you have fringe sports like the luge. Just shove a zombie down the icy track and you’ve got a possible world record.
Granted, there are certain positions a zombie could never play. A zombie shortstop would have no range, for example. A zombie punter couldn’t catch the snap, let alone punt the ball without his leg possibly snapping on impact. And any position that required much thought would be impossible, what with the brainlessness. Brainless violence is a zombie’s best -- and really only -- skill, meaning UFC would be flush with new competitors.
The zombie options in sports are limited -- but they are there. And no doubt some coaching genius would think of a way to perfectly utilize zombies. Coaches would drool over the toughness that zomletes provide, too. You don’t see a zombie sitting out with an injury. No, sir. Chop an arm off with an ax and they still keep coming. Zombies are gamers.
Oh. Don’t forget competitive eating. Dunk some Nathan’s hot dogs in human blood and Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut wouldn’t stand a chance. Zombies are bottomless pits. Literally, if their stomachs are torn out or their legs are hacked off.
Would sports in a post-zombie uprising hellscape be better or worse?
Well, let’s break it down.
Logical divisional realignment
Reasonable player salaries
No labor disagreements
Exciting stadium atmosphere
Great fan promotions
Improved sports media
Improved player safety
Influx of new athletes with different skill sets
Flesh-eating zombies everywhere
There are far more pros than cons, and the pros address almost all of the major problems affecting sports today. So would sports be better after a zombie apocalypse? I guess it really all depends on how much you would be bothered by flesh-eating zombies being everywhere.