Finding other ways to enjoy the thrill of participating in Gonzaga’s notorious Kennel is extremely important to many sports fans, especially with March Madness quickly approaching.

Though the pandemic has made it hard for Zag fans to physically participate, there is no shortage of ways to show devotion, for basketball and many other Zag sports.

Starting with, COVID-friendly watch parties. Of course, following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines of social distancing and staying six feet apart is essential, but watch parties do allow for a bit of social interaction.

“Watch parties help build community and are a great excuse to hang out with friends and eat some fantastic food,” said Becky Doyle, a devoted GU fan and Kennel Club member.

Hosting a small gathering at home with close friends, or even having a virtual watch party over Zoom for those under more strict quarantine measures, are great ways to mitigate not physically being in the Kennel and it brings an element of it home.

“I can’t wait to get to go to one again, especially to watch the Zags,” said Doyle.

Teleparty, formerly known as “Netflix party,” is a Chrome extension that is compatible with certain streaming companies that will allow you to watch sports games live with others at the same time.

Teleparty is compatible with Hulu Plus, which allows for live streaming, HBO and Disney+. It is a great tool for hosting virtual watch parties.

If you don’t want to be tied down to specific streaming services, other watch party extensions include Scener, Twoseven and Kast. Kast lets you and your guests use their own webcams and microphones.

Another way to watch sporting events, which has been all the rave, are the bars.

The environment bars lend to sports fans is one that is sought after by many people as it is the closest many students come to social interaction during this pandemic. With most bars enforcing strict social distancing and mask-wearing rules, bars are a safe and fun way to catch a Zags sporting event.

Additionally, bars are popular because “they have more screens and you can see multiple games at once” said Kennel Club member Daniel Atchinson. 

Though Jack & Dan’s is a sought after choice, there are countless bars around the area with plenty of TVs.

Providing the same watching facilities are those neighboring bars:

1. The Star Restaurant & Lounge (1329 N. Hamilton St., Spokane, WA 99202)

 2. Logan Tavern (1305 N. Hamilton St., Spokane, WA 99202)

3. Rincon Tapatio (1212 N. Hamilton St., Spokane, WA 99202)

Bars a bit farther include:

1. No-li Brewhouse (1003 E. Trent Ave. #170, Spokane, WA 99202)

2. The Globe (204 N. Division St., Spokane, WA 99202)

3. Borracho Tacos and Tequileria (211 N. Division St., Spokane, WA 99202)

4. Buffalo Wild Wings (4750 N. Division St. #1320, Spokane, WA 99207)

All are eager to get a taste of the craziness that is being a devoted fan in such an important tournament and bars can help bring a bit of that “hype” environment students love and get in the Kennel.

Sports games are also very popular. Participating in sports wagers (up to individual discretion), making brackets, and playing trivia can be very fun, especially as games get more intense.

If you are 21+, creating drinking games is also a fun way to watch the game and participate in certain challenges.

You can find March Madness drinking games already created on Sports Illustrated Magazine, Pinterest, Etsy and the like.

If you have the resources, creating a small outdoor theater can also be an exciting way to watch sports and be socially distant.

Using a projector and a sheet, you can find creative ways to get a small group together outside and avoid the confines of an indoor space.

If you want to create a multiscreen sports watching marathon, putting multiple devices together like laptop screens, monitors and TVs can help create this environment.

COVID-19 has forced students to find innovative and safe ways to enjoy the perks of college life, especially when it comes to sports. 

Alex Goldstein is a contributor.

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