Americans, it’s time to organize petitions, start jogging and go cold turkey on the carbs because you just might be able to compete in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics if a new sport garners enough of a following.
That sport: Keep the balloon off the floor.
That’s right, the game you played as a child with the balloon you received at a birthday party or after breakfast at the pancake house, when you would bat the balloon around your childhood living room as long as possible without letting it hit the ground is a real sport with a league, an international tournament and a championship. The inaugural Balloon World Cup was played on Oct. 14 in Tarragona, Spain.
Where did the inspiration for this new sport come from? Unsurprisingly in 2021, from a family of young adults making TikTok videos. Antonio, Diego and Isabel Arredondo started recording themselves playing this game in their Keep up the Balloon League during quarantine. The games are mostly played in the Arredondo family living room. The account has over 400,000 followers and some of the videos have 1,000,000-plus views.
The popularity of the Keep up the Balloon League spread overseas. Spanish social media sensation Ibai Llanos, has one of the 10 most followed Twitch Channels in the world, and his business partner, FC Barcelona center-back Gerard Piqué, organized the Balloon World Cup and 32 countries were represented. The Arredondo brothers represented the United States and the grand prize for the winner would be $15,000.
At the Balloon World cup, the playing field was designed to look like a living room, complete with couches, desks, chairs and something everyone has in their living room, a Volkswagen. The competitors wore helmets and the only moves prohibited were intentionally blocking your opponent from the balloon and striking the balloon directly downward.
Even though this league was inspired by Americans, the Arredondos could not bring the championship home. The winner was Francesco De La Cruz of Peru. The tournament was broadcast on Twitch with Llanos as one of the commentators in a group that channels the energy of Gus Johnson and Ray Hudson. In total more than eight million people tuned into the event.
For those of you who occasionally look longingly at your old letterman’s jacket or Facebook pictures of a body long gone, this is your chance. Get in shape and get involved. Who knows, you might find yourself at the Olympic Village in seven years, or at least on the Ocho.