An impromptu game of HORSE on socially-distancing Blacktip Island has developed into an island-wide tournament which spectators can watch live online. (photo courtesy of Aathavan Jaffna)
Blacktip Island residents confined under strict stay-at-home orders and missing sports have joined forces to create a social-distanced HORSE basketball-shooting competition and streaming it live online.
“People are starting to go bug-nutty inside so much, and we had to do something,” Alison Diesel said. “We’re allowed out for an hour a day, but still have to social distance. We came up with a hoops competition with just two people who don’t go anywhere near each other.
“Word got around and it really took off,” Diesel said. “Most people on the island wanted in on the action, so we came up with what amounts to conference-call basketball.”
The game’s rules were slightly modified to meet island public health mandates.
“Only two people are allowed on court at one time, and they have to stay at least 10 feet apart to allow for windage and heavy breathing,” B.C. Flote said. “Each player has to wear a facemask, and every time someone misses a shot and the ball changes hands, they have to spray the ball with bleach and leave it on the court for the other person to pick up.
“Also, each player has a ‘home base’ marked off far from the basket where they can take off their mask and have a drink,” Flote said. “Players are encouraged to bring their beverage of choice, alcoholic or otherwise, depending on their personal hydration needs.”
Matches are streamed online, where other competitors and spectators can watch.
“We thought it would be a passing thing for a few people to kill time, but folks got really into it,” Ernestine Bass said. “Half the people on island are playing, and the other half link up online to cheer for their favorite players. It’s really bringing the community together.
“The players are going all out, too, making uniforms and bringing laptops with them so they can play to the online crowd,” Bass said. “With so many people playing, the first round’s a round-robin format for seeding, then it switches to double elimination.”
The game has produced several surprise favorites.
“Who knew Lee Helm could actually shoot hoops?” Diesel said. “And Marina DeLow’s a stone-cold sniper from anywhere on the court. It’s early yet, but they’re hands-down the two to beat so far.
“At the tourney’s end we’ll set the trophies on the court 10 feet apart, spray them with Lysol and let the winners pick their trophies individually.”