SlamBall is a hybrid sport that includes physical elements of basketball, football, hockey and gymnastics. Played on a shock-absorbing spring floor about the size of a basketball court, a set of four trampoline quads is located under each basket. A plexi-glass wall, as in a hockey rink, surrounds the court.
In the trampoline "slamzones," players reach for the heights to score 3-point dunks (any regular basket is worth two points). Defending "stoppers" try to prevent the dunks by colliding with the attackers in midair. Players wear helmets, padded undergarments and knee and elbow pads, and full-body contact is allowed anytime except when a player first receives a pass and has not yet begun dribbling. Each 20-minute match (the right length for a half-hour TV program) is played by four players on each team.
"You can't have fear playing this sport," says Damien Speranza, 25, who was one of eight athletes in Brooklyn to be invited to a final tryout camp at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. "There is no other sport where you have physical contact 14 feet in the air."