For those of you who don’t know, SlamBall is a sport which has been described as football and basketball combined into one. SlamBall is the sport with trampolines, dunking and big hits. Most sports fan’s have at some point in their life seen a highlight of a trampoline dunk or a vicious block at the rim. My question is why hasn’t SlamBall blown up in America, a sport that basically combines the two greatest American sports of all time should be mega marketable.
SlamBall was started in 2002 by Mason Gordon who wanted to create a sport that combined multiple sports and played like a real life video game. The popular new sport was on Spike Network for two seasons before Gordon and a Spike executive had a major disagreement. It was successful while it was on television and people enjoyed it, but a two year sample size wasn’t good enough to make fans actually upset that this sport had been disintegrated. Should Gordon have swallowed his pride and just gone on and worked with the television network? Probably, but the sport resurfaced in 2008.
In 2008, SlamBall came back in a big way, they created a league with multiple teams and even brought in big name coaches like John Starks, Kenny Anderson and Rocket Ismail. Ken Carter, who the movie “Coach Carter” is actually based off of, went on to coach his team to a championship in 2008. The 2008 SlamBall draft even had over 100 players of which only a little over 60 were drafted. Although the season wasn’t televised in America, it had minor success overseas. If this draft had been televised on American television along with the tryouts of these players, would that have changed things? Watching the Big 3 on Fox Sports right now reminds me a lot of what happened with SlamBall. The games were never live, the coverage isn’t great and we don’t get enough content from the stars we actually want to hear from. When people pay money to see Allen Iverson play basketball again and they get a guy who plays two minutes then just leaves the game, that just isn’t good for the brand.
SlamBall never had a true “Superstar,” they just let players come try out for them. To get people watching, you have to have superstars, like all other sports. Go out and recruit some ex NFL guys and some ex NBA guys to come on and bring attention to this wonderful sport. Imagine Deion Sanders or Jerry Rice playing in SlamBall, everyone would have wanted to watch these hall of fame players yam on people and tackle people in the open floor. A sport without a superstar is a very hard sport to market, Gordon had to have known that.
In 2018 SlamBall has gone global and is still having tournaments worldwide, but they aren’t getting the attention they deserve. With all the ways to live stream games now, you would think adding a superstar and livestreaming these exciting games have to be high on the priority list. This is a sport everybody would enjoy watching because of the physicality and the high flying dunks. It’s basically NBA Jam in real life and who doesn’t enjoy NBA Jam? With newfound television or streaming rights and a major superstar, it could only be a matter of time before this forgotten sport takes off and SlamBall is on full display for the world to see.
– Johnny Rambos