I was trying to remember this afternoon, a story I read in sixth-grade English about how professional sports had declined because people had come to enjoy video simulations of them much more. It struck me as possibly prescient, so I plunged into Google.
Turns out the story, "The Last Superbowl," was written by none other than George RR Martin. *
The story is actually two tales, as he covers the last Superbowl which takes place in January 2016 and interjects the depiction of that Superbowl, between the Green Bay Packers and the Hoboken Jets, and the downfall of real sports. Real sports, in the 2016 of Martin’s fictional world, have been overtaken in popularity by simulated sports.
Simulated sports are controlled by a computer that can put any team, from any era, against any other for the enjoyment of the spectators. The technology he describes in the computers that control the simulated sports may have been a thing of science fiction in 1974, when I assume he wrote the piece, but here in the real 2015, our computers are powerful enough to create those simulations. Just look at video games like Electronic Arts’ Madden and FIFA series.The Super Bowl is still pretty popular, and doesn't look to be overtaken by video games this decade, at least. But with growing concerns about what CTE does to the brains of football players — and the dearth of injuries and suicides by digitized players — it's not difficult to see Martin's scenario, or a version of it, coming to pass.
* I thought it had a tremendous amount of gratuitous nudity and sex for a story in a sixth-grade textbook.