Alternate History Sports

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2/26/2021 11:24 am  #1


Would anyone here be interested in...

...an alternate history about a sport (you can decide which one, really) in a version of Italy that was unified in 1848 as a federal state, rather than in 1861 as an unitary state? While this detail may seem like a minor one, it really isn't, since the odds wouldn't be as stacked against the south of the peninsula as they were in OTL, for example, and (I'm killing a few butterflies here but, whatever) several prominent foreign players of Italian descent that made history as Aussie rules or baseball players abroad could actually be born south of the Alps and play there.

I'm asking, because this forum seems made up, for the most part, by people from the US, many of whom would be more interested in something based in North America. I did consider something set in and around a New England that seceded in the early 1800s but still got a massive share of Irish immigrants after all, namely a Gaelic football league...

 

2/26/2021 11:27 am  #2


Re: Would anyone here be interested in...

I'm always interested in something that is well written that the writer has done their research on to make it immersive. I regularly read things for countries and sports that don't exist, because they're well done.


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2/26/2021 3:48 pm  #3


Re: Would anyone here be interested in...

Welcome to the boards! I would find it very intriguing. Italy isn't an area we've seen much of around here. I have several Italian friends from Naples area so I would find that to be interesting.


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2/27/2021 4:42 am  #4


Re: Would anyone here be interested in...

Steelman wrote:

Welcome to the boards! I would find it very intriguing. Italy isn't an area we've seen much of around here. I have several Italian friends from Naples area so I would find that to be interesting.

I see. Here's what I had in mind:

Idea #1: many of the earliest association football clubs in Italy were born as association football and cricket clubs, due to how most of them had been founded by expats from the United Kingdom (example, A.C. Milan); however, cricket quickly fell into obscurity and, to this day, Italy's cricket landscape is dominated by people of South Asian descent.

What if cricket had become just as popular as calcio, leading to a Barassi Line-like arrangement in which the country is equally split between a cricketing sphere and a footballing sphere?

Idea #2: before sailors from Albion brought their favourite pastimes along with them while on their naval trips to Livorno and Genoa, the most popular sport in Italy was a local variant (or, rather, a vast array of local versions that were, however, quite similar to each other) of the French jeu de paume; this sport was so popular that even Goethe talked about it, and pallone players were some of the only professional players in the world back then, alongside Japanese sumotori and Spanish bullfighters.

However, the sport entered a long decline as soon as the peninsula was unified: the authorities had a very militaristic and nationalistic view of sport, and sought to favour gymnastics and target shooting rather than any purely recreational endeavour. If the peninsula hadn't been unified through force of arms by the very conservative government of Piedmont, there's a chance this sport could survive.

Idea #3: today, calcio is a word synonimous with association football; in the Renaissance however, it described a very violent sport native to Florence, not that dissimilar from rugby union as seen through the eyes of a violent sociopath. This kind of Florentine football was played even by Popes and princes, but its popularity waned over the centuries, and it disappeared completely until Benito Mussolini (yes, him) revived it, both because of the Fascist hard-on for the glorious days gone by and because, well, it was violent enough to appeal to a bunch of far right assholes.

It wouldn't be unlikely for it to be revived earlier on however, by someone who looked at what the English were doing while hanging around some Tuscan coastal city or another, and realized that the peninsula had its own kind of rugby, too.

Last edited by Ulmicola (2/27/2021 4:43 am)

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2/27/2021 10:31 am  #5


Re: Would anyone here be interested in...

From an outside looking in perspective, I like the idea of Idea #2.


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2/27/2021 10:35 am  #6


Re: Would anyone here be interested in...

Dan O'Mac wrote:

From an outside looking in perspective, I like the idea of Idea #2.

Got it, any other takers? 

 

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2/27/2021 5:33 pm  #7


Re: Would anyone here be interested in...

Ulmicola wrote:

Idea #3: today, calcio is a word synonimous with association football; in the Renaissance however, it described a very violent sport native to Florence, not that dissimilar from rugby union as seen through the eyes of a violent sociopath. This kind of Florentine football was played even by Popes and princes, but its popularity waned over the centuries, and it disappeared completely until Benito Mussolini (yes, him) revived it, both because of the Fascist hard-on for the glorious days gone by and because, well, it was violent enough to appeal to a bunch of far right assholes.

It wouldn't be unlikely for it to be revived earlier on however, by someone who looked at what the English were doing while hanging around some Tuscan coastal city or another, and realized that the peninsula had its own kind of rugby, too.

I have heard of this, actually. It is a pretty unique idea, considering that as far as I know it’s really only played in Florence today, and practically it would be nigh-impossible to get a league together considering what you do in it, but I really like the idea.

Nonetheless, welcome!


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2/28/2021 5:36 am  #8


Re: Would anyone here be interested in...

CCLXXXVII wrote:

I have heard of this, actually. It is a pretty unique idea, considering that as far as I know it’s really only played in Florence today, and practically it would be nigh-impossible to get a league together considering what you do in it, but I really like the idea.

Nonetheless, welcome!

That was the case for soccer as well, more or less - even though Italy is smaller than many US states, the fact that it's made up, for the most part, by hills and mountains, and due to the less than ideal state of the economy for most of the country's history, travel was hard back when the first soccer league was established, so the first seasons of what would eventually become Serie A consisted of a series of regional tournaments whose winners eventually faced each other for the championship.

However, the model that was eventually adopted, that of a pyramid of leagues linked by promotion and relegation, does have some drawbacks - since the richest and wealthiest area of the country was, by far, the triangle of Genoa, Milan and Turin, this system made it so that most of the profit and success was nearly monopolized by teams from the area, with teams from those regions south of Rome languishing in the lower leagues. Even today, teams based in small Po Valley towns are often more successful than teams from major towns in Sicily, for example, and talented players from the southern regions get regularly poached by northern teams.

Due to how Italy does things, it would be impossible to adopt the US franchise system - just try to relocate a team from Florence to Pisa, I dare you; the result would make the bloodiest American race riot seem like a pacifist rally - but features such as collective ownership of players and teams and a comprehensive salary cap policy could be easily adopted by any alternate league.
 

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2/28/2021 6:48 pm  #9


Re: Would anyone here be interested in...

I watched the video for #2 and it seems like a really unique sport that could be easily modernized with a fancy court, uniforms and updated rules for better athletes.


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3/01/2021 4:14 am  #10


Re: Would anyone here be interested in...

Steelman wrote:

I watched the video for #2 and it seems like a really unique sport that could be easily modernized with a fancy court, uniforms and updated rules for better athletes.

Looks like #2 is the clear favourite here, then.

And what you proposed, it's happened already, at least in the shape of a hybrid sport joining up similar games played in the Romance-speaking areas of America and Europe. And as for the uniforms, they updated them in Piedmont, at least

However, I have some ideas of my own about how to update the game, I'm at work right now but I will post them later.

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