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Racing Across the Galaxy: Star Wars Sports Culture

For those of you who haven’t yet, I highly recommend you check out the new Marvel Han Solo series. The art style is really great and you get to see Han Solo in all of his bravado glory. The story, which is set after the destruction of the Death Star, features Solo going undercover in a famous starship race called the “Dragon Void Run” in order to uncover Imperial spies. But what is most interesting to me, is not so much Han Solo’s past, as is the continuing expansion of the concept of sporting events in the Star Wars universe. We’ve already seen from past canon that ship racing is very popular across the galaxy: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace features podracing and the novel Star Wars: Bloodline features the Five Sabers piloting championship. Similar to how Star Wars connects a variety of different people across the world, sports have a similar effect.

Marvel's Han Solo Preview

Marvel’s Han Solo Preview

Just think of the most popular sports in the world. Even if you yourself don’t like them or follow them, there is a kind of energy and power that comes from sporting events that gets people engaged. For example, just recently, during the European Cup (for football/soccer), Icelandic fans did this:

We see this kind of commitment from Star Wars characters as well. The crowds really came out in droves in the sparsely populated Tatooine to witness the Boonta Eve Classic. And don’t forget how Joph Seastriker and the other New Republic pilots were so into the Five Sabers starship races. In essence, Star Wars characters truly seem to interact with their own sports in the same ways we do.

Nonetheless, what I find really interesting is that the only sports that we have been exposed to in Star Wars has been ship racing. On Earth, most people like football/soccer, American football, baseball, cricket, and basketball—all played on a flat surface and with some kind of ball. If we see sports as a way to bring many different cultures/people together, then in a way, the fact that ship races are the most popular sporting events in the Star Wars galaxy makes sense. We see time and time again that ships are the heart-and-soul of transportation in Star Wars. They are the literal vehicles that both characters and audience go in to travel to magnificent new worlds and environments. They move the story forward. The ships and star maps themselves form the intricate web of the galaxy, connecting all of the worlds, species, and cultures. What better way to connect the inhabitants of the Star Wars galaxy than a variety of different ship racing events with participants from all walks of life?

The Cantina Cast

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Star Wars has been with me ever since I was a toddler. My parents got me Episodes IV-VI Special Edition VHS's and I went on to grow up with Episodes I-III in the theaters. I feel very lucky to have experienced the entire saga in my youth, and have found that as I grow up, the more depth I notice in the Galaxy Far-Far-Away. I've come to believe that Star Wars ultimately can inspire us and inform our own lives.

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