LINCOLN PARK — The first "bubble soccer" league in Chicago — and possibly the world — is preparing to launch in Lincoln Park next month.
The rules of bubble soccer are simple: kick the ball in the net, but while wearing huge inflatable plastic bubbles around your upper body, meaning players can smash into each other without getting hurt.
Or at least not that badly.
Players are routinely sent flying when the inflated bubbles collide, and they subsequently roll and roll until their legs can find the grass or turf.
The creator of the Chicago league said he believes it is the first organized bubble soccer league in the world. The league kicks off in Wrightwood Park, 2534 N. Greenview Ave., starting Sept. 23.
"People move around, and it's a high level of play," said Greg Caplan, a 24-year-old Gold Coast resident. "People are definitely falling over rolling around in these things. It's definitely not for the meek."
The game gained a bit of fame last month when it was featured in a BuzzFeed article, which traced its origin to 2011 when it appeared on "Golden Goal," a Norwegian television program. Last October Jimmy Fallon and Gerard Butler faced off in the bubbles against Wu Tang Clan's Ghostface Killa and RZA in a skit on the "Late Night" show.
Registration for the bubble soccer league is underway, but Caplan said spots are limited as there has been a huge interest.
The initial leagues will include 32 teams that will play on Monday nights. One league of 16 teams will be coed and the other is a men's league. The games are eight-on-eight, refereed and feature two 12-minute halves. The league will feature a guaranteed six games over six weeks and playoffs.
Caplan, a Groupon employee who is running the league on his own, said he and some of his friends had been watching videos of bubble soccer online and wanted to give it a try.
The only problem was there were no leagues or even places to try the game out, and each individual inflatable ball costs about $500.
"It made sense to buy them so everyone else could play," he said.
As of midweek, he still had never played a game yet. He was awaiting the shipment of balls, which he expected to arrive this week.
It costs $1,000 per team to sign up, but Caplan is running a Groupon deal which cuts the cost down to $499.
Caplan said there's no doubt he will be suited up in a bubble for the first match.
"We've been watching this for a little while, and decided, 'This is such a fun game. Let's play it,'" Caplan said.