• Could Buckball Work as a Real World Sport?

    Buckball, a sport in which ponies from all over Equestria (mostly Apploosa and Ponyville) come together to encouragingly scream at their selected 3 of 6 top athletes of different statures, race and skills, battle it out head to head to see who the superior ball bucking team truly is.
    Buckball along with acrobatic flying quickly became one of the shows staple games, showing up a whopping 3 times throughout the series, some liking the concept, others not so much, and others so much that they actually played a version of it at conventions like Nightmare Nights Dallas.

    So, done right? Someone’s played it, so it must in fact be playable in real life! Read all about it below!

    Or at least, it isn’t that straight forward.

    See, in these editorials, we like going hardcore, so what we’re gonna be seeing is if a literal raw, non modified version of Buckball can in fact be seamlessly converted over to the human world and be played like a proper sport (or as literal as the human body physically enables us, cause flying and levitation ain’t a thing, at least yet).

    So, after reviewing and thoroughly analyzing each of the only 3 Buckball episode in the series, I present to you;

    Buckball’s Real World Potential

    A New Trend is Born

    Starting off with it’s extremely short history, Buckball is a team sport that was introduced in Season 6’s “Buckball Season” where we learn of it being an Apple family tradition, but still fairly new.

    After Ponyville’s first game and historical win of 6-5 over Appleloosa, Buckball explodes in popularity as we see in the first couple seconds Season 9’s “Common Ground”, racking up many die hard fans from all around Equestria along with an entire stadium, museum, and somehow even a Hall of Fame already. (I’m starting to think I got the history part down wrong).

    Setting Up

    Where to Play
    Buckball, just like many of our real world sports, was ever only shown to be played on either grass, dried soil or inside a gym, resembling tennis a bit with it’s different types of grounds that can be officially played on, while changing the game’s physics ever so slightly. However it’s also safe to say the we definitely won’t be playing on any clouds or molten rocks.

    These extremely common field types matched up with the little equipment needed to play easily makes Buckball one of the most accessible games around the world, both competitively and non-competitively.

    Speaking of equipment...

    What you Need to Play
    • Open space
    • A ball.
    Yup, das is all. “But Aevv, don’t you need a bucket?” I hear you cry.

    Hush my little one. Remember, we’re trynna go for barebones ghetto style here, so just have the catcher, yknow, catch the ball with their hands. However, it’s a different story when playing competitively or as accurate possible. If hardcore is what you live for, you’ll definitely need:

    • A field made up of grass or dirt, or a court with the painted boundary lines.
    • 1 ball (most likely a mix between a soccer and volleyball from how the ball was reacting in the episodes, even if it was a red dodge ball).
    • 2 Baskets, 1 for each team.
    • Team kits.

    As seen in this outstanding diagram I made below

    Really, the only other sport that competes with Buckball in ease of accessibility in both competitive and non-competitive play is soccer, and that’s truly saying something!

    What’s missing now are some friends to play with, but considering the audience I’m writing to, that shouldn’t really be a problem!

    Playing Buckball

    Not gonna lie, I thought this part would surprise me with things that I hadn’t caught the first time viewing the episodes. I was right. Not as right as I would’ve liked to be, but right!

    Buckball definitely wasn’t some random game that the writers put together in 5 minutes. Surprisingly enough, it has actual depth and rules that were only slightly hinted at existing that many like me just skipped over and didn’t think much of the first time viewing.

    So without further ado, let’s get into my personal favorite part of the editorial!

    The Field

    The field/court in Buckball is made up of 5 different lines, 1 outer boundary ring, 1 ring on the inside split down the middle by a center line, and finally 2 more rings within each other in the center. Together, these lines make up 6 different zones... which were never explained in the show, so I’ll try my best in attempting to figure out (mostly make up) what each zone might have been for, but it’s all up for interpretation!

    VoilĂ , here’s another image diagram thing I drew over

    Purple Center Line:

    This line splits the field into two sides, separating both teams during the Buck-off.

    However, notice how the line only reaches out to the second to last ring, leaving the final (blue) zone completely non-separated. This most likely has to do with the fact that the field players (Bucker and Keeper) can’t actually enter this zone as they are reserved for the Catchers, therefor have nothing to do with the actual field of play.

    Simply put, this line just separates both teams’ Buckers and Keepers for Buck-off, after which they are free of roam anywhere inside the green-red zones on either side.

    Red Zone:

    This zone is where the Buck-off happens. The ball will be bounced off the ground and high up by the referee as both opposing Buckers will face off over a contested ball to start the play.

    Yellow Zone:

    Not gonna lie, nothing I come up with actually justifies the existence of this zone, and i’m starting to think it was just added for aesthetics.

    Buuuuut I’ll give it my best possible guess and say that, due to it being very narrow, is a zone that exists so that during the Buck-off, each Bucker must have at least two of their hooves inside it until contact is made by one of the players. This could also mean that only the assigned Buckers can go for Buck-off and no one else.

    Green Zone:

    This is the zone where the two in-field players (Bucker & Keeper) from each team battle it out in attempts to reach their Catcher’s Basket located behind the opposing team.

    While writing this I realized that anything outside the green zone is technically out of bounds. The reason for this has to do with the in-field players not being able to play the ball outside of this zone, and any ball not in motion for the Catcher to catch would have to mean a restart of play as no one can play the ball anymore.

    Blue Zone:

    We already decided that the outter ring of the green zone is the boundary, so what is this blue zone?

    The blue zone is the zone that both Catchers are restricted inside. They can not interfere with play outside of their zone nor can any infield players directly interfere with them outside of theirs. To the infield players and any still ball, this would be out of bounds, but as long as the ball is moving, this is where the Catcher would catch a ball from for their team to score a point.

    But as many of you have probably noticed, there are no extra lines inside the blue zone whatsoever, which can only mean that the catchers are actually free to roam anywhere inside this zone, even to the other side behind their very own team. This also makes it so the two opposing Catchers can interfere with each other just like the in-field players can with each other. And yes I am aware that this could be extremely game breaking, but could also make for some interesting 300 IQ tactics to counter this as long as the team works together! Even then, I still think it’s game breaking but hey I didn’t design the field.

    The Players

    Each Buckball team is to be made up of minimum 3 players with no known rules or limits on substitutes, with a maximum of 3 per team on the field/court at a time.

    Acrobatic, tough and quick, the Bucker is the most athletically demanding position in Buckball as you are expected to be able to move around the field with ease and speed while performing acrobatics like bicycle/scissor kicks as seen from both Pinkie Pie and the similar Soccer-Volleyball player in the images above. Not only that, but strength to body the opponent and defend your self is also an important attribute to have as there is nothing separating you and the other Bucker. In a more general sense, the Bucker has to be able to excel in as many different abilities as they can.

    Both opposing Buckers face off in the center Buck-off Zone during Buck-off at the start of play. Think of it as a jump ball in Basketball, except players are to use their feet I stead of hands.

    Once play starts and both teams are battling it out to score a point, the Bucker is there to be both a passing option for their team, and a ground defender to intercept/contest any passes or plays with the opposing Bucker since contact and freedom to move around the field is allowed.

    Explosive, fearless and committed, the Keeper might not be as impressive as the Bucker when it comes to flashy skills, but they are the engine and driving force of every team. This is where all opposing attack is stopped and where most of a team’s attack is started.

    Having great reflexes and explosive power is ideal for this position as you will be expected to perform sudden long distance dives and reaction saves, but unlike many other sports except Soccer, they can also help the Bucker up field to attack as they too are allowed to move freely and swiftly around the field while leaving their goal open, hence the similarities between a Buckball and Soccer Keeper. In a more general sense, the Keeper should also be able to do everything well, but only what’s really important, nothing too fancy here!

    Once play starts after Buck-off, the Keeper’s main role is to block any opposing attempts to score a point and if the ball is still in play, start their team’s attack by making passes, or directly shoot the ball in attempts to score a point.

    One thing that makes Keepers in Buckball so special is their freedom to both defend and effectively help in attack. They can even try intercepting a ball from the opposing Bucker is they really felt like it. They can do anything as long as they follow the rules by zone (I.e. only use their hands from inside the green zone)

    Oh yeah I should also mention that when the Keeper catches the ball, they cannot move from that spot and can only pivot.

    Reactive, coordinated and anticipative (yes apparently that’s a word), the Catcher has to be amazing at well, catching! This guy is usually expected to have the best chemistry with his teammates while also being able to read the play extremely well so his team could trust him to be where he needs to be to catch the ball reliably, which also means outstanding coordination.

    This position resembles a few positions from other sports like a Cricket Wicket-Keeper, but I’ve found that the familiar American Football Receiver relates to the Catcher position best as they need to reliably catch a ball in tough situations for their team.

    Without a catcher, a team cannot score points. So even a position that might seem as boring as the Catcher, it also happens to be yet another extremely important position in Buckball, just like all the others.

    Mix it Up!

    Initially in the show, each team was to be made up of 1 Earth Pony, 1 Pegasus, and 1 Unicorn, or like in our real world case, players with a specific skill set in a specific position like I listed above with what I believe are the most similar positions from our world to the ones from the show for comparison.

    However, in Season 9’s Episode 15 this barrier was eliminated during a friendly game between the School of Friendship and the School of Magic when Twilight mentions to Celestia how she used the temporary wings spell and a magic dampening ring over a unicorn player’s horn to make it so that any race can have a shot at fairly playing any position, as we were shown by some of the players on the field.

    I present to you, another diagram

    Sort of a comparison grasping onto straws but hear me out;

    This change made by Twilight further points out that yes, the most common and similar positions may be the ones I listed above, but it definitely doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun and try something completely different and have it work!

    Perhaps you want something closer to a Baseball Catcher, or a Wicket-Keeper, heck maybe a Rugby player or even a Street Soccer Freestyler! It’s your team after all, so have fun with it! The only obstacle now is finding those players willing to fill in all those spots.

    How it could play in the real world

    So what I've decided to do here is to take a made up but possible sequence of events that could happen in a single play, while going over most of the base things that could happen in a game to demonstrate how play would go. Keep a close eye out for small details like the Keeper coming up field, passes and such!

    Team 1 vs. Team 2

    Team 1 (T1) Bucker meets Team 2 (T2) Bucker in the center for Buck-off. T1 Bucker wins Buckoff by actually sending it back to their goalkeeper as a pass instead of shooting directly to attempt scoring.

    T1 Keeper receives the pass and shoots directly on target instead of passing it to their Bucker as they see an opportunity. T2 Keeper makes a save and keeps possession of the ball. T2 Keeper passes the ball down to their Bucker but T1 Bucker prevents the pass from being successful by body checking the T2 Bucker aside, intercepts the ball and passes it back to their Keeper.

    T1 Keeper fakes a shot and passes it back down instead. T1 Bucker uses his body to hold off the T2 Bucker and receives the pass. T1 Bucker controls the ball and dribbles it through the T2 Bucker's legs and gets in a 1 on 1 with the T2 Keeper.

    T1 Bucker fakes a shot and sends the ball back to his left where his T1 Keeper receives the ball up field, who one-time shoots it in on their open basket.

    T1 Catcher thumbles the ball as the T2 Keeper swoops in to recover the ball. T2 Keeper quickly passes it up field in a counter attack where their T2 Bucker relieves the ball and passes it in to their open Basket with ease as the T1 Keeper is still on their side of the field.

    The T2 Catcher catches the ball successfully and scores a point for Team 2.

    Final Verdict

    If it wasn’t obvious enough after reading all that, then yes! You can definitely take a near perfect raw version of Buckball (with certain modern human limitations) and actually play it both competitively and non in our world!

    But beware, unlike many other sports where you can just pick up a new one and use your prior skills and knowledge from another sport you play, Buckball is so unique that it could be difficult to play at first for nearly everyone no matter how athletic you are while also being a new sport with no known tactics and starter guides to follow on top of it all. But that’s what’s great about a new sport like Buckball, everyone is on a level playing field when it comes to everything except for possibly physical abilities!

    So what now? Well I’d go over the rules but I don’t plan on spending a year writing this editorial with different chapters in it, and the article I linked above does a pretty good job going over the basics of the game so you can start playing.

    Now get out there and Buck that ball!


    Extra Notes n’ Stuff

    I have been considering writing an official rule book, so depending how this editorial is perceived I could always write a follow up! If not, but you’d still be interested in that idea, feel free to send me a message on any social platform you may find me on! All help is welcomed!

    Bellow you can find a small list of noteworthy points that I found interesting when analyzing the episodes, but had no clue how to implement into the article, enjoy!

    Opposing Bucker can cross into our zone to contest/challenge the ball.

    The ball can touch the ground and even be dribbled.

    The Bucker can pass it back to their Goalkeeper.

    Goalkeeper can score goals too.

    Whenever the ball goes out of bounds, play restarts at the closest point to where it was caused. Buckoff or the Goalkeeper who’s side it went out on.