Alternative sports becoming new wave | Sports

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COVID-19 has caused the loss of many opportunities in the world of sports, but it has also created others.

Prep sports is out, college sports is out, pro sports is limited, and local sporting events such as races and organized games have been canceled until 2021. However, the county’s parks and recreation departments have seen an uptick in program participation, young people are going to gyms and health clubs and outdoor activities are seeing historic spikes.

Amid all of the changes is rife opportunity for alternative sports to take a main stage again. When the novel coronavirus first causing closings of schools and business in March, ESPN turned its attention to unusual sports like the Stupid Robot Fighting League, marble runs, cherry pit spitting, sign spinning, stacking and death diving. Cast-off sports such as spikeball, axe throwing, cornhole and putt-putt became the stars of the show.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and promote sign spinning and cherry pit spitting as the new sports to follow. But there is something to say about unusual sports and what they offer during this time of COVID-19.

When I was growing up, the Crystal Coast still offered an arsenal of niche sports, ranging from bowling leagues, sailing regattas, strongman competitions and amateur boxing tournaments. I’m sure there is still a sprinkling of these sports still happening in the county, but it’s not as prevalent as it was.

There are other little-known pastimes, too, such as geocaching, packrafting, bike polo, parkour and longboarding. These sports are often done alone without the edge of competition, but they could easily be adapted to physically test competitors and thrill onlookers.

The Crystal Coast Highlands is a perfect example of a minimal-contact alternative sport, but sadly, this year’s event has been canceled. The minimal-contact series of events is perfect for this time of COVID. Ocean-centric events like surfing and fishing are also appropriate during this time, but many have also been canceled.

People need sports and organized physical activity, and it doesn’t look like the novel coronavirus is going away anytime soon. Maybe it’s time to invest more time and energy into nontraditional sports that don’t require physical contact.

What are sports, after all, if not a physical activity with a competitive edge? I would rather see a community cornhole tournament or a downhill bridge longboarding competition than nothing at all. And no disrespect to the kickball leagues out there, but there’s just not much to look at there.

It’s time to settle into this state of affairs and find another way to get our non-televised sports outlet. Most prep sports aren’t happening until early next year. Let’s accept that and form the county’s first bike polo league. What else are we doing?

(Send comments or questions to or follow him on Twitter @zacknally)

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