Sports to play while quarantined

As a result of Governor Kate Brown’s stay-at-home order, issued on March 23, Oregonians have been directed to remain in their homes whenever possible in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. For many, this means refraining from participation in their usual athletic activities—the gym, group sporting events, trips to the local swimming pool—in an effort to ensure the safety of others. 


While these are small sacrifices when considering the value of the general population’s well-being, it can be difficult to relinquish one’s outlet for physical exertion and competition. With that in mind, Vanguard compiled a brief list of fun and easy ways to stay active and maintain that competitive edge, all while practicing social distancing.


Animal Athletics


Badminton with your pets

This one is fairly simple. All you need are a couple of racquets—tennis or badminton will do—and something to bat around. Two is the minimum number of racquets required, but the more racquets available, the more people can play. When deciding on an item to bat around, a tennis ball or shuttlecock—that’s really what it’s called in badminton—could be used, but for this activity, the best option is using a pet’s favorite toy to encourage maximum participation on their part. Once the necessary equipment has been collected, the game begins. This could be a game of keep-away, a teamwork-focused activity—with the goal of the longest possible rally—or just a way for the player and pet to work off some excess energy. 


Competitive bubble popping

This is a sport for all ages and animals, though livelier participants may get the most out of the experience. The requirements are simple—a bottle of bubbles and a low threshold for deriving satisfaction from silly games. The game proceeds as one might expect; bubbles are blown and the pet handles all of the popping. How the game is scored is up to the participant. Consider a time trial, with a set number of bubbles to be popped in a predetermined time frame, or it might be a bubble extravaganza, with emphasis placed on physical exertion on the part of the pet. After all, the pet likely isn’t keeping score. 


Animal obstacle courses

For those whose preference is spectating over participating, this sport allows the pet to do most of the work while the owner enjoys the entertainment. A challenge of speed, endurance and agility, the in-house obstacle course is the perfect opportunity for exercising creative muscles. The course may be confined to one room or the entire house. The game can be scored based on the time it takes the pet to complete the course, or by inserting treats throughout the course and recording the number secured by the pet.


Leisure Sports


Solo cup putt-putt golf 

This sport may be familiar to anyone who has participated in a fraternity. Using Solo cups—alternatively, any cups or mugs will do—set up courses throughout the home at varying levels of difficulty. Golf clubs provide the ideal living room putt-putt experience, but a baseball bat or even a mop will do in a pinch. This activity allows for serious creativity; how simple or complex the courses are is entirely up to the participants. Is it a par-3 hole with a straight shot down the fairway into the living room? Or is it a real doozy laden with laundry bin bunkers? The possibilities are endless.


Paper plate frisbee golf 

Once Solo cup putt-putt golf has been mastered, paper plate frisbee golf is the next logical step. Make use of an open microwave, backpack, cat box or whatever it may be. The same rules apply here that were used in putt-putt golf. Paper plates are recommended to ensure nothing in the house is broken, but when ready, feel free to move up to the plastic—or ceramic, for the more daring—plate stage. 


Inanimate object races

This is another activity that’s heavy on the creative aspect up front, with the opportunity to sit back and relax once the work is finished. There are two forms of racing from which to choose: marble and popcorn. For marble racing, grab some styrofoam tubing; pool noodles work well, or the kind used for padding and insulation—anything a marble fits in will suffice. If supplies or creativity are at a premium, popcorn racing offers the same opportunity for spectating competition with no critical thinking necessary. Just grab some kernels, one per player, throw them in a pot and see whose kernel is the first to pop. 


Bonus activity

If pitting inanimate objects against each other is the goal, consider the more seasonal, but dearly loved, microwave Peep battles. Dig deep into the back of the cupboard for those Easter candies perpetually gifted but rarely consumed; if Peeps are not available, traditional marshmallows can be substituted. Equip each fighter with a weapon, such as a toothpick, place them in the microwave, hit start and let the battle commence. The last Peep standing is deemed champion. 


Mental Aerobics 


For those who prefer exercising their brain over breaking a sweat, there are still plenty of ways to stay active without gathering supplies or even leaving the couch. 


Competitive people watching

Nearly everyone has indulged in this activity, whether it be sitting in an airport or in the backseat on a long road trip, but not everyone has added a competitive factor. This game can be a race to see who can find something the fastest, or an untimed competition to see who can find the most of something. Be the first to locate three people wearing turtlenecks; see who can spot the most mom jeans. See some Doc Martens? Count ‘em up! With the game’s environment constantly changing, no two competitions will be alike.


Socially distanced superlatives

In times like these, just about everybody could use a little boost or a kind word. While everyone is doing their best to avoid getting too close, show friends how valued they are with some socially distanced superlatives! Who has the nicest smile? Who has the most luxuriant beard? Who smells the best? Who would be most likely to survive an apocalypse? Challenge friends and see who can be the nicest. There are no losers with this game.


Interactive: Include a poll – Which sports are you playing?


Share your quarantine sports with us! Tag us on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #QuarantineSportsPSU to share how you’re staying active while maintaining social distancing.