by Michael Smith
While not the most physically competitive of species in the galaxy, the Bwaps nonetheless do engage in what some observers view as a sport on occasion. While competitive swimming and diving competitions are popular, as are displays of cooking prowess ala Iron Chef, none really capture the Bwap outlook and mindset as well as po-arbaee-pa (roughly “scaling the tree in a cost-effective and mutually beneficial manner”).
Bwaps will come from all around to watch their favorite oba-wa (roughly “ad-hoc sporting collective”) compete. A typical po-arbaee-pa league will consist of ten teams who play against each other during a three-month season until only two teams remain who then face off against each other in a week long tournament coinciding with the end of the Bwap kelp harvest.
As Bwaps do not really understand the concept of professional athletes, these teams are composed of Bwaps who wish to sharpen their administrative skills and achieve the sort of notoriety that Bwaps crave: good business sense. Each team has twenty-four players, all of whom tend to be young, unmarried Bwaps with low incomes and relatively no financial security.
When the teams assemble for the first time on the field, the referees/auditors establish the parameters of the game; including, but not limited to, appropriate business models, financial goals, accounting practices and initial capital investments. The first round then begins with the senior Bwap on each team organizing his team into their proper roles based on a combination of knowledge of his team’s strengths and weaknesses as well as the business model he deems most appropriate for the competition (subject to a vote from the rest of his team and approval by the referees/auditors). This is followed by initial strategy meetings, cost-benefit analyses and review by the team members assigned as oversight committee members. The first round lasts four hours and is judged by the referees/auditors and the game officials who award points based on goals accomplished, style and financial liquidity. Points are awarded in the form of more capital as well as profits earned (if any).
The second round begins in earnest with direct competition between the two teams; each attempting to maximize their market share while maintaining strict accountability and ethical practices. This round again lasts four hours and is subject to the same final judgment by the officials. During this second round, however, team members may be let go due to bad business decisions, or the need to recoup financial losses. Teams with particularly poor performance may take a two-hour time out at this point to reorganize if necessary, usually replacing the team leader and making adjustments to their business plan (again, subject to rulings by the officials).
By the third and final round (the Bwap fiscal year breaks into thirds, not quarters), things really heat up. The referees/auditors at this time introduce an assortment of randomized market scenarios that complicate business for both teams; combined with fierce competition between the teams, the third period really tests the skills of the competitors. Unlike the previous periods, the third round ends when the losing team declares bankruptcy, is acquired by the opposing team or secures a lesser share of the market than the winning team.
Final rulings are made by the referees/auditors and the officials, which in hotly contested games can take anywhere between another hour and two to three days in some extreme situations! The winners are awarded a minor but lucrative business contract which they may use to establish a small venture if they so choose; some members may be cherry-picked by Bwap corporations and administrators for key low-level positions within their organizations. The losing team is usually dissolved.
The thirteen volume set of competitive rules complete with annotation and a further twenty-three volumes of strategy, guidelines and interpretations can be daunting to non-Bwaps (Administration skill of 18+ to read the whole thing, as well as a high Will and lots of stimulants), as a result the game has never really caught on beyond Bwap circles.
The rules themselves are mind-numbingly complex for non-Bwaps and subject to interpretation by the officials.
- From http://www.freelancetraveller.com/features/culture/games/poarbaeepa.html