There are four players on the rather small court, two teams of two. They are on bicycles that have been specially modified for the event. Riders may not touch the floor, and they may not kick the ball. Instead, they propel the ball with quick flicks of the front wheel while all their weight is on the back. These guys can hit it hard. Like hockey, you are allowed to catch the ball, but you must immediately drop it straight down.
The game requires remarkable amounts of skill. Players move forward, backward, and they stand on either wheel. They hop the bikes, spin and twirl, and generally put on X-game performances, but without the arbitrary judging. It is an actual sport, by my stringent definition. (No judges, scoring is significant, scoring is constantly a possibility.)
Apparently, the sport has been around a long time. Right now at the Little Café Near Home a documentary is playing, honoring a team who started back in the black and white era (also known as the communist era, but for different reasons), and today, beer bellies and all, they’re still mighty damn good. They have trophies, medals, and awards out the wazoo. Shelves and shelves of them.
OK, the documentary just showed them getting the gold in Sydney. I think it did, anyway. If that’s the case, it is yet one more beef I have against American olympic coverage. There are olympic sports that look cool that I didn’t even know about? I look forward to the day when each channel bids to show a particular event, rather than the olympics as a whole. By not locking up the entire games with a single provider, obscure channels would have a chance to carve a niche for themselves showing events the big boys could never afford to show. NBC can pay a billion dollars for figure skating, while the outdoor network picks up biathalon cheap and NBC learns the hard way that figure skating is not a sport. That, my friends, is the free market, and under that system you would be able to watch the events you like. Somewhere.