July 13, 2024

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No sports to watch? 10 things you can do instead

No sports to watch? 10 things you can do instead
No sports to watch? 10 things you can do instead

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Sports are canceled right now, and if you’re anything like my father, you’re devastated. My mother texted me last night to say, “Cancelling sports could kill my marriage.” She’s now dealing with a grown man sulking around the house—and she’s not the only person sharing space with a sad sports fan right now. Our editor in chief poured his heart into an article about March Madness only to have the entire event canceled just 11 minutes after publishing. What’s worse, these sports-loving enthusiasts can’t even fall back on watching the NBA (it’s canceled), MLB spring training (also canceled), or even the NHL (you guessed it—canceled).

If you’re likely looking for something—anything—that can fill the void left behind by watching live sports, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re an NCAA enthusiast who’s craving a bracket-based competition or a hockey fan who’s sadly staring at images of Gritty, we’ve found a few ways you can occupy your time that would otherwise be spent shouting at the TV.

1. Binge sports movies like it’s no one’s business

"A League of Their Own" is an American classic.
“A League of Their Own” is an American classic.

There’s no reason sports-themed movies can’t keep you entertained right now. Many of our favorite streaming services—like Disney+, Netflix, and Hulu—are filled with classic sports movies that should keep you engaged and give you a lovely dose of nostalgia. I personally recommend watching my favorite sports film “A League of Their Own” (we’re thinking about you, Tom), but if that’s not your taste, peruse sports content on the big streaming giants.

2. Play your favorite sports video game

Video games are a great alternative to sports.
Video games are a great alternative to sports.

Video games like Madden and NBA 2K are renowned for how realistic they look and how accurately they portray sports play. So if you’re itching to watch the Celtics dominate, pick up a copy of NBA2K20 and get to work helping them shape the season that could have been. There aren’t any video games that allow you to play in the NCAA (unless you want to relive the 2009 season), but there are plenty of options for football, baseball, hockey and basketball fans.

3. Get into competitive board gaming

Forget shouting at the TV and shout at the table instead.
Forget shouting at the TV and shout at the table instead.

Got that competitive itch that only sports can scratch? Try picking up a board game that feeds your competitive need while you wait for sports seasons to start back up again. If you’re quarantined alone at home, pick up a solo board game you can play on your own, like Mansions of Madness or This War of Mine. For households with more members, opt for the timeless favorite Risk, my personal favorite Catan, or the ever-timely Pandemic.

4. Pick up a time-consuming puzzle

Opt for a puzzle that has 1,000 pieces or more for the best experience.
Opt for a puzzle that has 1,000 pieces or more for the best experience.

There’s nothing that makes time tick away quite as quickly as a good puzzle. They require a great deal of attention, they’re fun to put together, and they’re engaging for groups of people if you happen to be quarantined with others. Opt for a sports-themed puzzle to get your fill—as a recreational puzzler, I recommend puzzles with 1,000 pieces or more, as they take the most time to complete. If you finish a puzzle and discover you’re suddenly a puzzle enthusiast, I recommend signing up for a puzzle of the month club, which is a service my sister swears by (and one that I’ve selfishly benefitted from over the years).

5. Start a sports-themed book club

Curl up with a nice book about sports and pretend you're there in real-time.
Curl up with a nice book about sports and pretend you’re there in real-time.

There are a number of excellent sports-related books out there, whether you’re looking for a great fiction novel or nonfiction book. Reach out to your group of friends who have been sadly shredding their March Madness brackets and see if they’d be interested in joining a virtual book club. Free versions of Zoom and Google Hangouts have the capacity to allow video calls for small groups, so you can host your online book club without having to learn how to set up a group call on your phone (is this even still possible?). Here are some recommendations to get you started:

6. Get really into a competitive reality TV show

Yes, that's a taco singing into a bottle of ketchup.
Yes, that’s a taco singing into a bottle of ketchup.

This is something I think we should all be doing regardless of whether March Madness has been cancelled. If you’ve got bracket fever, forget placing bets on the NCAA and instead invest that energy into a really great (or really terrible) reality TV show. If you haven’t binged “Love is Blind” on Netflix yet, I would definitely recommend creating a bracket and getting your friend group involved. The show follows six couples who get engaged without ever seeing each other. In the finale, you learn which couples actually make it to the alter—so basically, it’s a perfect substitute for March Madness, as you’ll get to fill in your brackets, then share an enjoyable viewing experience with your friends.

Alternatively, “The Masked Singer” also lends itself well to homemade brackets. The show follows 18 celebrities (term used loosely) as they compete in a singing battle. Only 9 will make it to the final round, and this year they’ve broken down the competition into three subgroups: Group A, Group B, and Group C. Three celebs from each group move forward, so if you’re trying to figure out your bracket, you’d want to start with the final nine and have each person in your group narrow down the winner from there.

7. Finally invest in that foosball table

Feel free to name your foosball players.
Feel free to name your foosball players.

If my husband would allow me to replace our dining room table with a foosball table, I would in a heartbeat. I’m a sucker for tabletop games, and while I don’t quite have the skill to match the enthusiasm, it doesn’t stop me from playing anytime I’m near one. Since you won’t be watching any live games, create your own fictional game from the comfort of your home by picking up a gaming station. I’m partial to foosball, but you can check out air hockey, mini bowling, and even an electric tabletop football game.

8. Pick up a new craft

Did you know it's possible to knit your own sports jersey? I'm not sure why you would, but you could.
Did you know it’s possible to knit your own sports jersey? I’m not sure why you would, but you could.

There’s nothing that gives me quite the same rush—the thrilling sense of accomplishment and pride—as knitting. I imagine this is how athletes and avid sports fans feel when their teams win, so I recommend trying your hand at a new craft with the time you would have spent watching sports. There are quite a few crafts we recommend for when you’re stuck indoors, but specifically for sports fans, I recommend crafts that will help you show off pride for your favorite team once they’re back on the field. DIY Joy has some excellent ideas for sports crafts, and thankfully, you can get just about any of the materials you need delivered right to your door.

9. Find the perfect sports podcast

The Ringer makes a great suite of sports podcasts.
The Ringer makes a great suite of sports podcasts.

When the NCAA announced March Madness was cancelled, there was nothing my father wanted to do more than crawl under his comforter and sulk. And there’s nothing that pairs better with life under a blanket than a good podcast (and lots of snacks). If you’ve been telling yourself you’re going to start listening to podcasts soon, but haven’t had the time, I have great news—it’s time, and there’s a wide world of podcast episodes you can now catch up on. My husband, a Boston-born fan who is contractually obliged to love sports, recommends podcasts on The Ringer network. These include shows hosted by and featuring Bill Simmons, a well-known sports writer and analyst.

10. Get started on spring cleaning (and turn it into a game)

Start cleaning so that by the time sports are back, you won't have to.
Start cleaning so that by the time sports are back, you won’t have to.

This one’s a hot take, but if you’re stuck at home sport-less and truly have nothing to do, make that time productive by getting a jumpstart on spring cleaning. It’s the perfect time to clean, disinfect, and rearrange your favorite sports-watching spot so it’s ready for the next time the big game comes on. And if you’re truly desperate, I encourage you to make it into a game—or better yet, comment on everything you’re doing as if you were a sports broadcaster. It’s sure to be entertaining for any roommates or spouses, except for my mother, who would passionately disagree.

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