Players give each other a shock during a Tazer Ball matchup.
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TORONTO - Toronto sports fans will get a charge out of this one.
The Ultimate Tazer Ball league - where players use 300,000-volt Tasers as part of the game - is coming to Toronto. Think of it like a combination of football, rugby and stinging electric currents zapping you at every turn. Canada's contribution, the Toronto Terror, is now beginning to form its six-person roster.
"Obviously, with anything, there's controversy so we're expecting people to complain about it being a violent game," explained Eric Prum, one of the three co-founders of the league. "But if you look at shows like Fear Factor and the UFC, we're very far from that."
The game is full-contact with four-on-four players on 200 by-85-foot soccer field, trying to score goals using a giant soccer ball. The clincher is whoever is running with the ball has the opportunity of getting zapped.
And if you were to watch the league's YouTube video - which went viral recently with more than a half-million views in the past two week - the pain is clear.
"The Tasers we are using are five to eight milliamp, 300,000-volt Tasers, so they're completely safe and non-cardiac," Prum said. "They're essentially stun guns. They do give you a jolt, but they're nothing like the police tasers (in the United States). The fun thing about an electric shock like that is it creates a spasm that you can't really control. So if you're running, you'll trip or if you're holding that big ball and you get hit, you'll drop it."
The league formed roughly a year ago in Southern California by Leif Kellenberger, Erik Wunsch and Prum - all of them involved in extreme paint balling.
The idea started off a funny conversation and grew to be a serious business, Prum said. Many of the players on each team are in their 20s and also involved in paint balling.
Derrick Weltz, 24, an iron worker from Kitchener is a player on the Toronto Terror and equates being Tased like "a bee sting."
"It's like a sharp jolt for a millisecond and then it's gone," he said. "It's more annoying than painful to me. Within 10 seconds, you're back to 100%. I use ‘pain' very vaguely. I tased myself in the finger and I felt that one for a good five, 10 minutes."
The training is mostly cardio, he explains, as there really isn't a way to prepare your body for the electric shock. They have to fly down to the U.S. to practice because both tasers and stun guns are illegal in Canada.
The rules are only one person at a time is allowed to use the stun gun on the player holding the ball and the shock has to be a split second below the shoulder and above the waist.
Besides the Terror, there are three other U.S. teams including the Philadelphia Killawatts, San Diego Spartans and L.A. Nightlight. Eventually, all teams will have six players.
Weltz and two other teammates - Nolan Stoer and Travis Kropf, also from Kitchener - are preparing for the league's first big tournament in Bangkok, Thailand in the first week of March. Another tournament is tentatively scheduled in Huntington Beach, Calif. in April.
"This could turn into a full-time thing," Weltz said. "Thailand's going to be a whole new experience. The world is really going to see the game and the potential it has. The Tasers have the visual effect as real tasers but the amperage just isn't the same. I just want people to be open-minded about it."
Prum said there are another four international teams set to join the league, including in Thailand and Europe. What's dumbfounded him is the amount of responses he's received from guys who want in on the tasing action.
"It's not like guys torturing themselves with tasers," he said. "It's like getting hit with a lacrosse stick or hockey stick. I know guys are playing because it's fun. What I am surprised by is the outpouring of demand to play. We must have gotten 2,000 or 3,000 emails in the past four or five days of potential players."
Organizers are looking for players who are athletic, serious about the sport and who "buy into our vision of the league," Prum said, adding they're still shaping that. They're looking at several options including turning UTB into a travelling tour or holding arena matches.
It's an idea Prum hopes will translate to a five or six-figure enterprise.
"There's some novelty and humour in it because it's so different - it's tasers, but it's also a lot of strategy and physicality, like hockey," he said. "What we do know is we have a league we're serious about."