Up to the year 2000, sports, and the athletes
involved were identical to what you are familiar with today. Then came the collapse. As far
as the USA was concerned, professional sports simply stopped being relevant. As people changed,
so did their taste in sport. Increasingly, violent pastimes became the American obsession.
After the martial government managed to re-establish order, they concluded that there was a need
to entertain the populace, and thus the concept of professional athletes using cyberware came
to fruition. The professional sports industry of Cyberpunk
needed to be truly brutal, and truly cathartic for a population of almost five billion humans.
It had to be different on a massive scale. International Soccer was the only sport followed
globally, but since nationalism was dead in the greater sense, the corporations took over
sponsorship of games. Teams like the Arasaka Sakuras, Militech Rangers, Night City Death
Dealers and the OrbAir Flyers not only generated valuable public relations, they made serious
money as well. There are no stars on these teams as most players don’t survive long
enough to get a following. Advances in medical technology have reduced most deaths to mere
maiming, but with enough irreparable brain damage over time, there are rumours that some
players are brain-dead, living on chipped routines that keep them moving and playing
under AI control. The players, however, remain expendable. As
far as the players are concerned, cyberware is the main rule. Only full-conversion cyborgs
and linear frames are disallowed. The full-body armour used is often adorned with spikes,
and not just for show either. Fatalities are a must for big ratings in 2077, and these
men, and women are eager to please. All this cyberware is usually quick change. Constant
use would cause a much greater percentage of cyberpsychosis than is already present,
and that is no small amount. Contrary to what one might think, this version
of football is not all about violence and cyberware. It’s a game heavily dependent
upon finesse and style. This is because if a player does get hit, the impact can be rather
messy if not fatal, so most do whatever possible to avoid that outcome.
While football is the most violent sanctioned sport, it is by no means the only violent
sport, and may be considered tame compared to some of the gang sports of 2077. Even the
gangs reached the conclusion, that when dealing with the police and corporations, killing
each other may not necessarily be the best strategy. This supposedly enlightened thinking,
has created several new sports, albeit they are somewhat disorganized in comparison to
their professional counterparts. There are usually no referees, and rarely any organized
teams. On the rare occasion there is a referee, they are usually armed with assault rifles.
The distinction in violence is very clear. The idea is to temporarily incapacitate the
other team. Open killing is forbidden, intentional maiming is an even greater taboo. Another
sport, Razorball, is played by gangs residing in the Night City combat zone within an abandoned
ice-skating ring, but details of what it involves remains elusive.
The closest thing to a nationwide big-money death sport is the North American finals of
the World Kumite Tournament. Despite attempts to keep combat drugs and cyberware to a minimum,
killings in the ring are not uncommon. This does not mean that there are no true
death sports. Some areas of the world sponsor prison inmate gladiatorial contests and MMA.
Some of these sports involve condemned people who must win to survive. These sports are
still technically illegal in America, but that has never stopped the market from supplying
demand. In Cyberpunk 2077, V will also be able to
participate in some form of combat sport. Details are currently vague, but promotional
material has shown that Heavyweight championship fights will take place involving members from
the Animals Gang at various locations, including the Zoo Arena, and the Night City Seaside
Resort Cassino, with tickets available from the Blood Box office.