The Super Bowl is already one of the biggest television events in the world, but this year, the NFL might try to make it one of the biggest events in space.
This week is SpaceCom 2016, a three-day expo that brings the private spaceflight industry together to present visions for how the commercial industry can take over suborbital and low-Earth orbit operations from NASA and help use space-based technologies to augment existing terrestrial industries like energy and agriculture. And apparently we can include football in the mix SpaceCom’s official Twitter account dropped the message that the Houston Super Bowl Committee would be announcing something special at SpaceCom on Wednesday afternoon.
Why is the Super Bowl interested in space, and what on Earth (ha) could Wednesdays announcement possibly entail? Here are three crazy theories:
The International Space Station Is Getting a Special Super Bowl Treat
Every year, astronauts aboard the ISS are treated to a phenomenal view of the Super Bowl: an overhead glimpse of the stadium as it orbits the planet. And yes — if they want to, they can also watch the game the ol’ fashioned way on television.
But Wednesday’s announcement may, perhaps, involve teasing some sort of greater participation between the NFL and NASA to celebrate the game taking place in Houston next year. Maybe the crew will say hi to fans that evening via video stream, or maybe the station will be afforded some sort of extra gift (SpaceX will launch a cargo resupply mission in January 2017, just a few weeks before the big game).
A Football Player Will Be Chosen to go to Space
Boris Diaw seems to pushing forward plans to be the first NBA player to go to space — maybe the NFL found one of its athletes to volunteer as a space-bound tribute? It’s difficult to imagine what exactly a linebacker’s role might be during a mission to space, but certainly they’d be in prime physical condition to handle the rigors of microgravity.
It’s worth noting that NASA has already recruited one former football player into its astronaut program: Leland Melvin was briefly a wide receiver for the Detroit Lions before a pulled hamstring ended his professional sports career. He went on to join NASA and fly on to Space Shuttle missions to the ISS. So if an NFL player is selected for astronaut training, he’d have some big shoes to fill.
The NFL Announces Expansion Team on Mars
It’s no secret the NFL is exploring the possibility of expanding to Europe. That’s already a pretty big move, but maybe we’re not thinking big enough. With NASA, SpaceX, and others already making concrete plans to send people to Mars within a generations time and establish permanent human colonies on the Red Planet’s surface, maybe the NFL is actually looking to expand its reach into deep space?
Just imagine what a game might look like on the surface of Mars. Each tackle would send players bouncing up several feet into the air. Tom Brady’s arm would launch a football maybe out of the stadium itself. The issue of concussions would take a backseat to the potential concern of running out of oxygen. I’m not saying the game would be any better, but at the very least it would make for a fascinating experiment in what sports will look like as humans move out into the rest of the solar system.