It isn’t often we have a new sport capture the imaginations of the globe, let alone a game you probably played as a kid. This past weekend the “Balloon World Cup” took place in Spain, and was more successful than anyone could ever imagine.
Just in case you haven’t worked out yet what the game is: It’s a game a “Balloon Keep Up,” in which competitors bat a balloon up in the air and keep playing until the balloon touches the ground.
There were only two rules in the “Balloon World Cup,” you can’t hinder your opponent’s path to the balloon, and all hits must be in an upward motion — making it illegal to spike the balloon into the ground, like a game of volleyball.
Games were held on a set that resembled a living room. As an added touch a Volkswagen was brought onto the set for the final, because in the world of keeping a balloon in the air, why not also have a car?
If you’re thinking that nobody would watch this, think again. The event was more popular than anyone’s wildest imagination, receiving over 8 million views on Twitch, peaking with over 600,000 concurrent viewers for the final. That match saw Peru’s Francisco De La Cruz beat Germany’s Jan Spiess 6-2, to give Peru all the bragging rights in the world of keeping a balloon in the air.
The event was a work of marketing art. Inspired by viral TikTok videos of people playing “Balloon Keep Up,” popular Spanish streamer Ibai teamed up with Gerard Pique of Barcelona to host the event.
It remains to be seen whether this was just a flash in the pan or the start of the world’s next great sport, but it’s always delightful we get to witness the birth of something beautiful.