Fancy a melee?
January 28, 2007 7:18 PM   Subscribe

Are there any sports that are contested by more than two teams simultaneously? three or

My apologies to cyclists, NCAA golfers and relay runners but I mean multiple teams on the field of play; perhaps all trying move an object or objects into designated areas.

This question is inspired by a childhood notion of a version of soccer played on a square field with four teams and four goals. (It has since grown in my mind into a hexagonal field with six teams and three balls, scoring not permitted in neighboring goals.) Before I patent this stroke of genius, I feel I should do due dilligence here.
posted by Octaviuz to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (25 answers total)
Not a real example, but in the book The Great Waldo Search (aka Where's Waldo: The Fantastic Journey) there's a page named 'The Great Ball-Game Players' that looks just like you describe (four teams, four goals), with the addition of a giant pit in the middle where you could throw your opponents' balls.
posted by Paragon at 7:26 PM on January 28, 2007

They want to add ballroom dancing to the Olympics. It meets your conditions if not your intent.
posted by smackfu at 7:30 PM on January 28, 2007

That's funny; I thought of the Where's Waldo game, too. I also think I remember reading about a similar game played in the nineteenth century by students at my university, where multiple teams tried to climb up an oiled pole and ring a bell or something. The sort of crazy thing that just isn't done anymore but that may once have been pretty widespread. Neat question, anyhow.
posted by washburn at 7:33 PM on January 28, 2007

Sometimes a version of basketball is played with more than two teams... using one goal, usually.
posted by sindas at 7:34 PM on January 28, 2007

posted by krisjohn at 7:43 PM on January 28, 2007

Chinese Checkers, although it's a board game, not an athletic contest.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:48 PM on January 28, 2007

Chessapeak is Chess for four players.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:00 PM on January 28, 2007

I don't really know anything about it, but people have told me that car racing is mostly about "teams" nowadays. Pit crews and drivers could all be said to be on a field.

I'm also pretty sure you can be on more than two teams at any one time in Calvinball since you can make up rules as you go along.
posted by ontic at 8:09 PM on January 28, 2007

Swimming and athletics relays.
posted by kisch mokusch at 8:17 PM on January 28, 2007

Competitive cycling, especially the Tour de France, maybe fits your criteria. Though the individuals get a lot of the credit and glory, it is very much at team sport, with team-oriented strategies and so on.
posted by aubilenon at 8:22 PM on January 28, 2007

(sorry, I missed your acknowledgment and disqualification of cycling.)
posted by aubilenon at 8:22 PM on January 28, 2007

darts, pool (sometimes), and four square.
posted by fair_game at 8:27 PM on January 28, 2007

(sorry, I missed your acknowledgment and disqualification of relays.)
posted by kisch mokusch at 8:42 PM on January 28, 2007

Paintball? Ok, so "sport" is relative...
posted by Justinian at 8:46 PM on January 28, 2007

I played soccer like you describe in elementary school PE. Four teams, four goals, two balls. So I dunno if you can patent the idea :).
posted by MadamM at 9:01 PM on January 28, 2007

Crew and most other sailing races like the America's Cup feature many teams at once, and each car in a Rally has a team of two inside. But it sounds like you want teams on foot, on a field, where the entire teams are engaged at once. Can't think of any.
posted by dammitjim at 9:45 PM on January 28, 2007

posted by dammitjim at 9:46 PM on January 28, 2007

Best answer: eh, dodgeball? We would play massive (like, ~60 people per team) 2 to 4 team dodgeball at camp over the summer.

Yes, we had a lot of refs.
posted by niles at 9:46 PM on January 28, 2007

Adventure Racing might be an interesting one to read up on for ideas. It involves teams (typically of 4 or 5) which compete against each other on a variety of tasks such as trekking or kayaking. The whole team is involved in each activity at any one time and teams are separated from each other either by a staggered start or by a circus arrangement whereby all teams start with a different activity and all teams change activities at a given time. (of course this is also the model for countless other activities in training and education - they just tend not to be "sports" in their own right).

My guess is that to make your game a success you would need to to consider time management very carefully - you have a limited amount of space and not all teams will be able to occupy all of it at the same time.

I would also consider looking at handicapping systems carefully - this could be a help when it comes to establishing an overall winner in an environment where not everybody will be competing head on with every other team. Yacht racing has a relatively complex rolling handicap system that accounts for both the type of vessel and the past performance of it and its crew for example.
posted by rongorongo at 4:01 AM on January 29, 2007

Best answer: It looks like there are three types of competitions that people are suggesting here:

1) Modified versions of usually two-competitor games, like chess, soccer, or dodgeball.
2) Authentically multi-player board games, like Chinese checkers.
3) Racing sports or achievement sports like golf or NASCAR.

The most interesting solution to this question would be a team sport that is natively n-team, like Chinese checkers. The soccer variant mentioned in the question, while cool, doesn't really meet the criteria, since it falls under type #1.
posted by Plutor at 5:03 AM on January 29, 2007

Definitely pro cycling. Nine team-mates in a team, and anywhere between a dozen and twenty-four teams (22 in the Tour de France) all on the same road, each trying to manoeuvre their leader into the right position.
posted by afx237vi at 5:57 AM on January 29, 2007

Best answer: In one or two of the books in Robert Asprin's M.Y.T.H. series, they played a soccer-type game similar to what you describe, but on a triangular field with three teams.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 8:26 AM on January 29, 2007

Your use of [more inside] has been deemed overly-clever. Consider yourself on watch.
posted by poppo at 9:46 AM on January 29, 2007

Assume you have a straightforward example of 4 team soccer - team A plays team B while team X plays Y. You use a cross shaped pitch, 2 balls and 2 referees. Chaotic and quite fun to participate in or watch once. But there are two problems that would prevent the game from being anything more than a novelty:

1. If teams A and X win in the individual games how do you fairly determine the overall winner without having to hold a playoff between them?

2. There is a problem of, say, A vs B contest turning into a farce because of irrelevant interruptions from the X vs Y play. If the interruptions appear in some pattern then there is a chance that the teams could use skill to overcome them - but if they are random then it is the sporting equivalent of a sudden hailstorm stopping play of a dog running off with the ball.

If you can solve these problems you will be onto something.
posted by rongorongo at 3:16 AM on January 30, 2007

Response by poster: I'm not sure I would describe your example as four-team soccer. It appears to be two separate games on fields which intersect.
My game would permit each team to shoot at three goals. Each team's final score would be reported as a two number group (GF, GA).

Yes, I have overthought this (no, I do not actually mean to do anything with it)
posted by Octaviuz at 8:44 PM on January 30, 2007

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