Plot: New football league is formed to compete against the NFL. However, it quickly loses fans because it's just a copy of the NFL. First change from the owners: teams no longer represent cities but demographic groups. Then rules protecting players are eliminated, making the games more violent. Then fans start killing each other in the stands and that gets added to the scores. Read at least 30 years ago.
In the long-winded and somewhat renowned “The National Pastime,” Norman Spinrad goes into painstaking detail describing – from the point of view of the cynical and failed filmmaker who invents the game as a means of advancing his career with a television company – Combat Football.
It should be no surprise that Spinrad takes a Progressive approach in his critique of the violence inherent in sport. His over-the-top game taps the animal nature of an unthinking population. Whatever the story’s politics – they take a back seat to some of the more illogical or implausible features of the new game.
For one thing, the wildly popular Combat Football includes only six nationalized teams, none of which have a home city. They tour the country for the best venues, and are organized based on demographic identity:
“This way, we got a team for the spades, a team for the frustrated Middle Americans, a team for the hippies and kids, a team for the spics, a team for the faggots, and a team for the motorcycle nuts and violence freaks.”
-- From “The National Pastime,” by Norman Spinrad
Even less logically, fan casualties and fatalities are included in the statistics, with numbers soaring into the hundreds per game. They are played in stadiums without security. The plays are portrayed somewhat realistically as akin to American football, but the key play consistently seems to be a punch in the mouth.