NASA announced that they’ve discovered signs of liquid water on Mars, which opens up the possibility of life existing beyond Earth. It also means there is still hope for “Splash Ball,” the new swimming pool sport I created and allowed to consume my entire life, to finally become the next big backyard craze!
For reasons I still can’t fully understand, “Splash Ball - The swimming pool game with 3 balls, 1 hoop, and 2 much fun!”, hasn’t quite “caught on” here on Earth in the way that I would have hoped when I cashed out my 401K to begin building up inventory. But maybe the Mars is just the market that we’ve been waiting for! I know we don’t have evidence of life yet and that finding intelligent life is even more of a long shot. Don’t even bother running the numbers on the possibility of finding intelligent life that’s interested in alternative backyard sports and games. I don’t want to hear them. All I know is that where there is water, there can be “Splash Ball.” And where there is “Splash Ball,” there is at least a shred of hope.
‘What is “Splash Ball?”’ Great question. It’s one that I pray to fucking God the entire solar system might soon be asking. Otherwise, what the hell have I done with myself? Why am I even here?
The idea for “Splash Ball” actually came to me after a regular old game of pool basketball during at a friend's Memorial Day grill out. What started as fun little game of aquatic two-on-two quickly devolved into a seemingly endless series of diving board alley-oops and deep-end threes. No one was keeping score. No one passing the ball. Everyone was calling my arcing mid-range shots “boring.” No one was letting me do a diving board alley-oop again after I missed the hoop and threw the ball into the grill on my first try. Everyone was telling me to “chill out” whenever I insisted that we “get back to the game.” Everyone was purposefully splashing me in the eyes after I called them all “a bunch of dumb assholes.” Everyone starting pushing off of my shoulders to dunk and holding me underwater for a really long time after I squirted an entire bottle of ketchup into the pool. It was total chaos.
‘There has to be a better way’ I thought as the EMTs pumped gallon after gallon of pool water out of my stomach. Couldn’t there be a ball and hoop pool game that rewarded skill and strategy instead the kind brute strength seemingly possessed only by dumb assholes? Where was the “thinking man’s” ball and hoop pool game? And it was right then and there, my mind still addled with chlorine poisoning, that “Splash Ball” was born.
The rules of “Splash Ball” are simple:
- Teams of two or more players try to score “Splashes” by throwing the “Splash Ball” through the floating “Splash Hoop.”
- But be careful! A team must complete three “Splash Passes” or “Splasses” before they can attempt to score a “Splash.” If a team attempts to score a “Splash” before completing three “Splasses” their “Splash” will not count and their opponent will automatically gain possession of the “Splash Ball.” That team must then complete three successful “Splasses” before attempting to score a “Splash.”
- But be careful! All “Splasses” must be completed within the “Splash Zone,” a six-foot wide circle surrounding the “Splash Hoop.” If the “Splash Ball” travels outside of the “Splash Zone” or if a player receives a “Splass” and their body is completely outside of the “Splash Zone”, their opponent will automatically gain possession of the ball.
- But be careful! All “Splasses” must also cross the cross the “Splash Pass Line” or “Splass Line,” an invisible and ever-changing boundary that runs across the diameter of the “Splash Zone.” The exact angle of the “Splass Line” is determined the player who posses the “Splash Ball’s” current relation to the “Splash Hoop” at the time of his attempt “Splass.” If a “Splass” fails to cross the “Splass Line,” the defending team will automatically gain possession of the “Splash Ball.”
- But be careful! Once a team completes three “Splasses” across the “Splass Line” they may attempt to score a “Splash.” All “Splashes” must be attempted within the “Splash Zone” and may not be attempted within a three foot radius of the “Splash Hoop.” Any “Splash” attempts made within a three foot radius of the “Splash Hoop” are considered to be a “Dunk” and will result in loss of possession of the “Splash Ball.”
- But be careful! Because once a team successfully scores a “Splash” the opposing team has an opportunity to negate, or “Trash,” the “Splash.” To “Trash” a “Splash,” a player from the formerly defending team must throw the “Trash Ball” into the “Splash Hoop” from anywhere outside of the “Splash Ring.” If the player successfully “Trashes” the “Splash,” the “Splash” will not count and his team will gain possession of the “Splash Ball.” If the player does not “Trash” the “Splash,” the “Splash” will stand and the team that scored the “Splash” will regain possession of the “Splash Ball.”
- But be careful! The team that has successfully scored a “Splash” that was not “Trashed” has the opportunity to wager up to three of their “Splashes” on a “Cash” throw. If a player from the “Splashing” team can throw the “Cash Ball” through the “Splash Hoop” from outside of the “Splash Ring” his team will gain the number of “Splashes” wagered.
- But be careful! If a player misses his “Cash,” his team will lose the “Splashes” wagered and those “Splashes” will be awarded to their opponent.
- First to 45 “Splashes” wins.
Now, I’ve heard a lot of criticism about “Splash Ball.” Nearly every toy store and big box manufacture I’ve met with has said the same thing: “It’s just like pool basketball.” “It’s just like pool basketball, but with two extra balls.” “It’s just like pool basketball, but without the fun dunks.” “It’s like pool basketball, but way slower.” “It’s like pool basketball, but way more complicated.” “The best part of pool basketball is the fun dunking and you guys specifically took the fun dunking out.” “I think people would rather just play pool basketball.”
Well, all of these “flaws” are purposeful. “Splash Ball” isn’t just some mindless dunk fest, even though focus group tests of “Splash Ball” inevitably turned into mindless dunk fests. People actually told us that they would be much more interested in buying a product called “Mindless Dunk Fest.” But I’m no fucking sellout. It was gonna be “Splash Ball” or bust, baby.
Interestingly enough, a few months later a three-balled, one-hooped pool game called “Mindless Dunk Fest” came to market. The product was almost an exact replica of the “Splash Ball” starter kit, save for the instruction manual, which simply read “No Rulez. Just Dunkz.” It was an instant hit. Stores couldn’t keep “Mindless Dunk Fest” on the shelves. People were calling it the Alternative Backyard Sports and Games Market’s “Furby. My lawyer told me that we should file a suit. He said it was an open and shut case. He said I’d be rich. But I refused to go to ever go to court. “Why would I sue?” I’d ask him. “That’s not ‘Splash Ball.’ If there’s dunks, it’s not ‘Splash Ball.’”
“Mindless Dunk Fest” got to keep their millions. I kept my pride.
Sometimes I think that even on the infinitesimal chance that “Splash Ball” fever does sweep the entire Red Planet, perhaps the damage is already done. When I quit my job to dedicate my days to “Splash Ball” Growth and Development by bringing after-school “Splash Ball” programs to inner city public schools, my wife decided that enough was enough. She told me that she had held out hope that “Splash Ball” would be a passing phase and that a life dedicated to “Splash Ball” wasn’t what she “signed up for.” She revealed to me she had entered into an extramarital affair with Mark, the fitness model I hired to star in my “Splash Ball” promotional video. I have no idea what she saw in him. He spent the entire shoot dunking the ball like an absolute idiot.
When she left me, I told her that if I had a real life “Trash Ball,” I would have used it to “Trash” having ever married her, but now if I had a real life “Trash Ball,” I would just want to “Trash” having ever said that to her. But there are no real life “Trash Balls.” I can’t “Trash” the fact that I have created a Hell for myself where I live alone in a home filled to the brim with 40,000 unsold “Splash Ball” kits and spend every single day trying to dig myself out of $175,000 in credit card and business loan debt with a splashy sizzle reel of the man who cuckolded me.
I don’t even have a pool.
The only thing that keeps me going these days is the thought that 48 million miles away there might be a home for “Splash Ball.” I don’t care if it takes hundreds of billions of years for life to develop on Mars to the point where it can hold and manipulate a playsoft, water resistant basketball. If the people at NASA has any decency in their hearts, when the next rover lands there will be a “Splash Ball” kit, complete with illustrated instructions, waiting for them. All I want if for someone, somewhere, at some time in this universe to appreciate the offensive/defensive balance brought by the three required “Splasses,” the possibly game-changing decision that comes with every “Cash Ball” wager, the sadistic thrill of the “Trash.”
Maybe “Splash Ball” never stood a chance here on Earth. Maybe “Splash Ball” was just too beautiful, too nuanced, too fragile for this planet and its dumbass human race. Maybe “Splash Ball” has always belonged… in the stars.