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A running list of makeshift ‘sports’ being invented due to social isolation

My new favorite sport is finding people who are inventing sports on TikTok.

Almost every major sports league is on hiatus, but as long as humans occupy the world, it will never be sports-less.

The coronavirus pandemic is going to teach us a lot of things. Among them — low on importance, but high on relevance to this publication — is that human beings can find a way to play games in any situation. Sports are an instinct just like blinking. And as long as we are the easily-bored rulers of the planet, we’ll find every way we can to keep ourselves amused.

Case in point: As millions commit themselves to self-isolation without any major sports competitions to distract them, many are using platforms like TikTok to show off games they jerry-rigged with the limited resources of their living arrangements. Below is a running collection of sports (and sports-ish) activities that have emerged from quarantine, graded by how sports they are.

Sports are canceled, long live sports.

Window Tennis

Case for sports:

  • Dexterity necessary
  • Promotes teamwork
  • Uses actual sports equipment

Case against sports:

  • Low repeatability
  • Low competitiveness
  • I’m afraid one of them is going to fall out of a window

How sports: 8/10. If they didn’t keep running out of tennis balls, I could watch this for hours.

Roomba Curling

Case for sports:

  • Cleverly adapts an already-existing sport
  • That’s some fine brushing technique
  • Leaves playing surface in better shape than it started, unlike most sports

Case against sports:

  • This is still more of a goof
  • Good goof though

How sports: 3/10. Not really a sport without a competitive aspect, but manipulating Roombas feels ripe with sports potential.

Turtle Tic-Tac-Toe

Case for sports:

  • An actual game, with a winner and a loser
  • Real competitive animosity
  • Employs strategy and gamesmanship

Case against sports:

  • One of the competitors may be playing unwillingly
  • Seems awfully one-sided as a result
  • Assuming the turtle wises up, every game should end in a cat’s game

How sports: 7/10. Short shelf life, but highly entertaining in that time.

Sock Pac-Man

Case for sports:

  • As individual sports go, highly absorbing
  • Modicum of skill necessary
  • Amenable to counting stats

Case against sports:

  • Hard to call a high score a “success”
  • Only obstacle appears to be own sanity
  • Wait, that should maybe go in the “For” column

How sports: 6/10. A sneaky good test of will.

Ping Pong Ball Trick Shots / Matisse Thybulle Doing Anything

Case for sports:

  • High skill level required
  • Can easily be adapted for competition among multiple people
  • Features an actual professional athlete

Case against sports:

  • None

How sports: 10/10. Throwing odd objects into/through odd things at odd distances and angles has long been a way to combat boredom.

As an addendum, Matisse Thybulle has been experimenting with TikTok since going into self-isolation and the results are delightful. Definitely sports.

Rube Goldberg challenges

Case for sports

  • Last-second drama
  • Cheering encouraged
  • Hinges on whether a goal is scored

Case against sports:

  • No direct opponent
  • Not repeatable?

How sports: 9/10. A roller-coaster ride throughout, and there’s potential to up the ante.

Eating dessert (?)

Case for sports:

  • Impressive skill and planning
  • Gripping twists and turns
  • Involves balls of several varieties

Case against sports:

  • Not enough human drama
  • Child endangerment?!
  • Just showing off really

How sports: 5/10. Cool, but could be more sports (see above).


Case for sports:

  • Heartwarming drama about an underturtle persevering against all odds
  • Masterful display of skill and physical prowess
  • Contains regulation sports equipment

Case against sports:

  • I will hear no slander against this turtle

How sports: 10/10. The very best of sports.

Dog yoga

Case for sports:

  • Good technique, athleticism and discipline essential
  • Potential for competition

Case against sports:

  • Better as a non-competitive activity
  • Dog might struggle with more difficult poses
  • TBH, wasn’t really watching for the yoga

How sports: 6/10 sport, 11/10 good dog.

Treadmill (?) Marshmallow (?) Eating (?)

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Case for sports:

  • Scalable difficulty
  • Requires incredible dexterity
  • Joyfully repurposes insidious athletic equipment

Case against sports:

  • Waste of ‘mallows
  • Promotes unhealthy diet
  • Danger of treadmill face burn

How sports: 8/10, delicious sports potential.


Case for sports:

  • Multiple competitors
  • Strict win/loss condition
  • Palpable joy of victory

Case against sports:

  • I mean it’s bingo

How sports: 6/10 for the ingenuity in this instance, but normally a 2/10.