A Game for the Age of COVID-19 (or) Sports Are Dead, What Do We Do Now?

This is, and I’m not overreacting here, the most batshit crazy week in sports history. A week ago right now, there was concern that some major sporting events would be played without fans present. Then the avalanche, triggered by Adam Silver’s declaration that the NBA would suspend play for the foreseeable future. So now what? The sole reason I’m fine with paying for satellite TV is gone. The CDC has advised we avoid each other at all costs. So how do we satisfy our sports addiction while also staying safe? Folks, if you’ve ever yelled “KOBE” while shooting trash into a wastebasket, you’re at least somewhat prepared for these perilous times.

It is crazy to imagine a world without sports, but most of human history missed out on them. It wasn’t until the 19th century that sports went from leisurely competition to an honest way to make a living. Baseball went professional 151 years ago. Football, at least its modern iteration, has been pro for a full century. The NBA will turn 75 in a few years. Athletics, of course, in their most raw and pure form, are as old as the first time a human figured out they could move faster than another. That evolution was agonizingly slow if you’re writing a history book, but we’re doing the opposite tonight.

We’re writing the future.

So there are guidelines the CDC has placed on all Americans during their feeble attempt to stave off the infection and complete destruction of our nation.

  • Keep a minimum of six feet between you and others
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth
  • If you can, be under the age of sixty
  • Avoid gatherings of large groups of people

These are the golden rules of Quarckey, the sport of the present.

So let’s eliminate some parts of sports that definitely don’t work in our new reality.

Basketball: All of it besides, I suppose, free throws. We want to reduce or even eliminate the passing of objects before they can be sanitized, so I mean yeah I get why Commissioner Silver squashed the NBA season.

Baseball: Actually a lot of baseball works. That sport is all about isolation, loneliness, and despair, something we all understand right now. Fielders wear large, leather gloves and players on offense have no common contact. The main detractor is the direct hand contact the fielders make on a common ball during a play.

Football (Norteamericano): Way too much contact, despite the use of pads, gloves, helmets, etc. Still, there are redeeming qualities. Special teams, particularly field goal kicking, would work. Tackling, passing, handoffs, all of it, out the window. Football is second to basketball in its near complete violation of CDC recommendations.

Hockey: This might have some merit. The players are constantly too close to each other, but aside from the puck drop and checking, everything is done by moving the puck with other objects. We would have to cut down on the amount of people, but there are bones to this baby.

Futbol (Soccer): I mean using your hands is straight up illegal unless you’re the guy wearing big ol gloves, the field is colossal, and if we make human contact and using your head both red card offenses, this game probably works. The structure of play really allows for lack of interpersonal contact.

Tennis/Table Tennis/Mario Tennis: If we agree that after every point, the ball is incinerated, tennis is good.

Bowling: I mean I don’t like the idea of touching the ball, but bowling is great and deserves mention. The part where the ball hits the pins is really great sports, and the wacky scoring system is just nonsensical enough to be endearing.

Golf: Four dudes with like all the space in the world, hitting a ball with a club. Just make sure to sanitize each hole’s flag when you put it back and you’re good.

Boxing/MMA: If you’re brain damaged enough, you won’t care about COVID.

So what would the game need to have to be playable today?

  • Large playing surface to ensure social distance
  • The ball/puck/object should be passed with another device to prevent common contact on it
  • If common contact of an object is used, a new object must be used with each play
  • Interpersonal contact is against the rules, and viciously disciplined

The turn-based structure of baseball would really do us some good, so lets set up innings. Nine seems like a lot, so lets chop it down to five to make games quicker.

Anticipation is the best part of any individual sports play: watching a three point shot arc toward the basket, a forty-yard pass spiraling downfield, or the tension of a shootout in hockey or soccer. We need to make sure that it’s worth playing or watching.

I really like the idea of incinerating the tennis ball after each play, so lets make that part of it.

So here, at long last, is a game called Quarcky: Quarantine Hockey.

The field is 400 feet by 400 feet, picture a square-shaped baseball field, set in a grid of 20 by 20 squares.

The main offensive player, known as the Teller, arranges his 5 teammates into 5 squares on the field. 5 of the 6 defensive players place themselves in squares nearby. The sixth defender, known as the Dowler, is closer to the Teller. They are the only players who use a device to strike the object.

The object itself, The Orb, is a smooth ball just smaller than softball-sized, and weighs 7.5 ounces.

The game is simple enough. The Orb is placed on a tee within the Teller’s Box. His device is similar to one of those things that help you toss a tennis ball farther for your dog.

His goal is to whip the Orb to one of his teammates, who wear special padded gloves to catch it. If they do, either on the fly or on a bounce, the square is theirs. If the defender catches the ball on the fly, the player he is covering is out and must leave the field. An inning is complete when all five squares are either filled or out or some combination.

If either player enters the other’s square, they are ineligible, and any action they complete is nullified.

The Dowler’s area is the largest on the field, as he has free reign over an area of the first 100 feet, in full, the 10,000 square feet not including the Dowler’s box, which is a standard 20 by 20 square.

The Dowler must be the most athletic and quick player on the field, as he carries a bigass net around to catch the Orb. If the Orb is caught, the Teller is out and must rotate to become an outfield player.

Players cannot occupy a square that is already possessed by their team or the other team, so the strategy of possessing opportune squares keeps the game interesting.

Each square, the farther it is from the Teller, is worth more points. This keeps scoring high and gives good reason for more difficult attempts. The square at the opposite corner from the Teller is worth 50 points, the most on the field. If the ball leaves the field of play, it is a dead ball.

This is the future of sports if COVID-19 overtakes humanity like is totally possible.

Honest to God, at least in reading this nonsense, you got a few minutes closer to the day real sports come back.

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