The short story “Meshed” by Richard Larson was published for the first time in 2015.
Oxford Diallo is a great basketball prospect who is about to turn 18. Recently arrived from Senegal together with his father, he’s been showing all his extraordinary talent since his first training session. For him there are excellent prospects not only for a professional contract but also for sponsorships. An agent immediately tries to convince him to get meshed, which means to get a neural implant to share his physical feelings, but he’s doesn’t want it.
“Meshed” takes us into a future that seems not too far in the world of basketball in a story that shows a possible evolution of what are current trends. In all high-level American professional sports the best young prospects receive offers not only from the teams of the leagues in which they will play but also from companies that want to make them their testimonials.
Over time, the money involved has grown enormously and media exposure has become increasingly sophisticated. Today the exposure on media, both “classic” and social, has become an integral part not only of players’ life but also of their career. Richard Larson tries to imagine how that could change in a future where neural implants exist that allow the audience to experience the players’ physical feelings.
Today we can go to the NBA website or to YouTube channels about professional basketball and watch the best actions of recent games. In a few years we could download much more complete experiences that make us experience the players’ feelings when they dunk or even during a whole game.
The story is told from the point of view of an agent trying to convince Oxford Diallo, a boy with an extraordinary talent, to sign a sponsorship contract that involves the use of a neural implant but he doesn’t want it. His maternal grandfather had a military-type neural implant when he was a soldier and it was used to control troops so his grandson didn’t want it.
The issue raises various ethical and moral considerations. The problem of using soldiers literally as puppets is the most disturbing but there’s also the one of being seen by millions of people. In this case, it’s a problem that already exists today with the exposure on the various media but it could become even more serious in a few decades if anyone can literally see what famous players see. What influence can such awareness have?
There are agents who act like sharks to convince young sport prospects to sign contracts with the companies they represent. From this point of view “Meshed” is realistic and therefore perfectly understandable. The science fiction element offers food for thought about technological applications that can reach fields that involve millions of ordinary people such as sports. You can find this short story for example in the anthology “Ghost Girl – La ragazza fantasma” published by Future Fiction in English and Italian.