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Column: Five sports to play indoors during social distancing

Thursday, March 19, 2020

I got a Snapchat from my friend Dalton yesterday, who lives in Indianapolis.

Most of the time, the snaps he sends me on Wednesday afternoons are to tell me how he just had the best shooting performance of his life playing pickup basketball, how he just dropped 30 on some clown and ran the court at the Irsay Family YMCA.

But yesterday’s snap caught me off guard. Dalton was frowning. He said the gym closed down to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus. He didn’t have anywhere else to hoop. What was he supposed to do now?

This column is for Dalton and everyone else stuck inside with no way to scratch your competitive itch. Here are five sports to play indoors while social distancing:


This was my first suggestion to Dalton. Find that old foam/plastic/rubber ball or roll up a sheet of paper, take the lid off your waste basket and get your shooting wrist loose. Challenge your roommates to a game of H-O-R-S-E and give everybody their first H by drilling a fadeaway falling onto the couch. Hand them another letter with a between-the-legs hook shot. 

Become a 3-point shootout champion, hitting five in a row from the opposite corner of the living room. Make sure you call “bank” if you’re using the wall as a backboard. Tape the number 24 on your shirt and shout “KOBE!” after every shot to honor the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant. 

It’s rudimentary basketball, but at the very least, you won’t lose your jumper during the break.

March Madness Simulator

Alright sports nerds (I say as I push my glasses back up my face), let’s crunch some numbers. Jeff Greer from The Pitt News tweeted out a long thread last Friday detailing how he and his older brother created the ultimate NCAA Tournament simulator when they were kids. 

They started by filling out a fake bracket (you can use projections, like ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, or just insert whoever you think would have made it). They made spreads for each matchup, to make upsets more realistic. Then they’d roll three dice six or seven times (three in the first half, three or four in the second, depending on the team’s adjusted tempo according to KenPom) for each team and add up the totals to get the score of the game. The team favored by the spread would get those additional points as well.

They’d do this for the entire bracket until a champion was crowned. There are probably simpler ways to do the same thing, but this seemed the most fun.

Paper Airplane Races

OK you remember when you’d go to your grandparents house? And you walk into the living room to find your grandfather asleep in his chair? And there were those propeller planes on TV flying in circles at ridiculous speeds? And you decided to sit down on the couch for 10 minutes and try to watch the end of the race? And then you fell asleep too? This is like that, except better.

Look up the best way to fold a plane and get to creasing. Don’t stop until the plane can successfully soar the length of the hallway. If you live on the third story of your apartment building like me, the goal is the opposite end of the parking lot. Bonus points for a non-crash landing.

Paper Football

An all-time classic. Unfold your paper airplane (or just grab a new sheet of paper), then refold it into a triangle. Decide with your opponent how close to the edge of your coffee table you want the “goal line” to be, what point total you want to reach and take turns sliding the “football” into the end zone. If you can keep the triangle from falling off the edge, you gain six points and a chance at an extra point. Have you opponent form the uprights with his thumb and index fingers and try to flick the football in between.

If you get good enough at it, maybe Tom Brady will sign with your team.

Stack Cup

All those plastic kids meal cups your family saved after eating out at a restaurant are finally going to come in handy. Grab 20 of them and stack two sets of 10 all on top of each other. If you’re going against an opponent, find out which one of you can build a pyramid with the cups, then break it back down into a single-file stack the fastest. If you’re by yourself, whip out your stopwatch app and try to beat your personal record.

I saved this game for last because I’m terrible at it. Hopefully you’ll have better luck.

San Marcos Record

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