Five sports-related things to do with your kids during COVID-19 quarantine

The spread of COVID-19 has kept most of the United States on a lockdown for the past two weeks, and that can be especially tough for families that have struggled with losing their daily routine.  

Children who are stuck home need something to do. It’s not easy to fill that void when sports are not an option. Take it from someone whose family is structured around two kids and a year-long schedule with sporting events — both professionally and at the youth sports level. I’d give anything to get ejected from a third-grade game right now.  

Just kidding. But for those parents who have kids who miss their sports, here are some simple suggestions to fill the void.  

Play ball in the backyard  

Use any ball. Baseball. Softball. Football. Lacrosse.  

We’ve used all of those in the backyard the past two weeks. My daughter, Bella Mae, was supposed to start softball in a few weeks. We have her hitting off a tee in the backyard.  

My son, Grant, is missing lacrosse and baseball, but we’re out in the yard working on something each day. 

The point is to get outside where you can. There are no laws in Ohio, where I live, against playing in your backyard (at least not yet), and my wife Kimberly encouraged us to walk through one of the trails at a local park this week. The point was to stay as active as possible.  

The cancellation of professional and college sports gets talked about the most, but the chance that kids might lose a year of youth sports is more heart-breaking in a lot of ways.  

Keep the kids in the yard as much as possible so they maintain that love for those sports.  

‘Play ball’ with baseball cards 

SN baseball writer Ryan Fagan does an excellent job sharing baseball cards with our audience on a daily basis. Baseball cards have kept Grant and his friends — many of whom were in the third-grade fantasy football league — together.  

We were hesitant to allow our kids to use Facebook Messenger, but it has allowed them to connect with their school friends at a time when we don’t know whether the school year will continue.  

They already have a six-team league and 10-game schedule with the baseball cards using an old game my dad taught me with a deck of standard playing cards. For those interested, use the baseball cards to make your all-time lineup:  

Then use the playing cards to play the game. Here are the values:  

Red ace: Single 
Red 10: Single  
Red 2: Double  
Red 3: Triple 
Red 4: Home run 
Red 5: Walk   
Black 2-5: Groundouts  
Red and black 6-9: Flyouts 
Red 10: Walk  
Face cards: Strikeouts  
Black ace: Stolen base (can be used any time)  
Jokers: Home run  

Flyouts with runners on are sacrifice flies and groundouts with a runner on first are double plays.

Is this game nerdy? Of course. Will you play it all night once you start like I used to with my cousins Dusty and Chase? Yes, yes you will.  

Play classic video games  

Introduce your children to the wonders of Nintendo and Sega Genesis.  

“Tecmo Super Bowl” is the greatest video game of all time, so start a season. Play a “Coach K College Basketball” tournament. Make somebody’s head bleed on “NHL 93.” Please play “Sonic the Hedgehog” with your family as much as possible. 

Then, flip the script and let your kids beat you in their favorite video games.  

Play board games. Is it too early to teach your kids poker?  

But if you want to come at me at any of the Tecmo Bowls, then you must know this is what I can do …  

That’s with Cody Carlson, not Warren Moon. 

Watch sports movies and shows  

Per Kimberly’s suggestion, we watched “Rookie of the Year” with the kids early in the quarantine (forgive me if I can’t remember which day). Bella loved it more than anybody else. “Teen Wolf.” “Remember the Titans.” There are so many movies your kids probably have not seen, but the run of ’80s and ’90s sports movies is timeless. 

Use it to your advantage, along with the streaming services.   

Grant and I have been watching “Peyton’s Places” and the “30 for 30” series, and we even pulled out a Johnny Unitas-Raymond Berry drill the other day.

Like everybody else, we can’t wait for “The Last Dance.” 

The CBS classic tournament games have been a gift in a month without March Madness. I got to witness Grant’s reaction to the Christian Laettner shot, and I texted all my friends the video immediately afterward. We all knew where we were then.  

Unfortunately, we are still stuck at home now.  

Teach through the experience 

School is out for the foreseeable future, and this is a reminder of how awesome our teachers really are with our children. In a sports-centric place like Pickerington, Ohio, we are blessed to have that. 

The ongoing spread of COVID-19 is a psychological ordeal, too, and for us it means Grant will miss Opening Day weekend in Cleveland with his buddies. He misses his classmates and teammates. We have already sent a few of them baseball cards for their birthdays (which also can be done online).  

For those stuck inside, the virtual classes have helped. Bella does online dance classes and continues to thrive and see her friends. We are all for it. Kimberly and I miss baseball and March Madness and driving to all those practices like everybody else, but we will continue to use sports to teach our kids the life lessons they need to get through this pandemic.  

You already know what the coaches always say. This time, it applies. 

Just take it one day at a time. 

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