Tag Archives: social distancing

Quarantined Blacktip Island Residents Stream Live HORSE Tournament

HORSE

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.”

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Blacktip Island ‘Distance Divers’ Scuba Via Video Conferences

CONFERENCE CALL

Faced with self-isolation orders, Blacktip Island scuba divers have taken to video-conference technology to enjoy the Caribbean island’s many reefs. (photo courtesy of Ackbahr)

Blacktip Island scuba divers practicing self-distancing are now using video-conferencing programs to share their dives in real time with other divers.

“Recreational scuba’s about socializing and showing other divers things you find underwater,” dive organizer Rosie Blenny said. “That was impossible with the self-isolation rules in place. Then we had the idea to do video conference calls underwater.

“We pick a time to dive, everyone goes in solo from shore at different spots around the island, then link up online,” Blenny said. “It was going to happen eventually. People are already doing underwater podcasts. This quarantine crap just sped things up. We’re calling ourselves ‘Distance Divers.’”

Some on the small Caribbean island voiced safety concerns.

“They’ve got 15, 20 people all out solo diving without a dive buddy in miles of them,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “That violates a basic scuba safety rule. It hasn’t bit them so far, but it’s only a matter of time.

“They also have a bunch of people underwater focused more on some internet gizmo than on their gauges and their depth-and-time profiles,” Latner said. “I understand folks wanting to get out of the house and enjoy nature, but this isn’t the way to do it.”

Distance Divers members said those concerns were unfounded.

“There’s no buddy physically next to me, but I’ve got a dozen people watching me in real time who can call for help if they see something go gnarly,” Alison Diesel said. “Everybody knows where everybody else is diving. End of the day, it’s safer than two-person buddy teams—you have a buttload of buddies keeping an eye on you instead of just one.”

Others said the video dives presented new, unexpected problems.

“Divers on some of the more remote sites have trouble accessing bandwidth,” Rocky Shore said. “There’s tons of screen freezes at awkward times. It’s also pure chaos when multiple people find things to point out at the same time. And we had to ban full-face masks to keep everyone from talking at once.

Local officials were supportive of the dives.

“Non-divers can dial in and see the reefs without any negative environmental impact,” marine parks spokesperson Val Schrader said. “That helps with everyone’s mental health. Divers, they have to really have to be desperate to participate, but there’s a lot of desperate on the island right now. More than usual. This is a great tension reliever.

“It also lets us keep track of reef health remotely,” Shrader said. “We can check coral resilience and fish populations without leaving the office. Individual diver behavior, too. It’s funny—watch long enough you can identify everyone just by their mask and regulator.”

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