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Sports are on pause and sports fans are staying home – no throwing on a jersey and meeting up with other fans – so those sports fans are taking sports online. Video games are suddenly every sports fan’s favorite hobby, but sports simulations like Madden and NBA 2K aren’t the only answers.

Over the weekend, Nintendo released “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” for the Nintendo Switch. It’s a cutesy life simulator set on a deserted island, and it features one tool that has proven very pertinent to sports fans’ interests: a clothing designer.

Players all over the country, including here in Philly, have left their Hawaiian shirts behind in favor of custom-made jerseys and uniforms.

Here’s a homemade Phillies hat and uniform:

Gotta do something with the time I suppose 🤷 from r/phillies

Here are four different Sixers uniforms:

Here’s Ben Simmons:

https://twitter.com/orlandgabe/status/1241855147959091201

Here’s a Flyers sweater, from Reddit user u/trashb4gs: 

Made my character a Flyers sweatshirt in the new AC game and it took JUST A LITTLE of the sting out of playoffs being suspended from r/Flyers

And here’s a hilarious Sixers jersey, featuring Joel Embiid’s latest nickname, from Reddit user u/MolangNeoi: 

I’m making jerseys for every team and I thought this would be fitting for JoJo from r/sixers

u/trashb4gs has only been a Flyers fan for a few years after growing up watching the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins, but they spent the last two years watching every Flyers game, which makes the NHL’s season suspension feel particularly abrupt.

“In the week or so since (the season) has been postponed, I just kind of sadly glance at my Couturier jersey that’s hanging in my closet every so often,” u/trashb4gs said, “so I felt like this was a small way to make myself better.”

u/MolangNeoi, a Toronto native and Raptors fan, noticed Animal Crossing players uploading their own designs, and decided jerseys seemed simple enough to try one out… and then another, and another. The Embiid jersey was the second in an abmitious project to design all 30 NBA jerseys.

Their boyfriend, a Sixers fan, suggested using Embiid’s Do-A-180 nickname.

An English major, u/MolangNeoi said they’re not normally artistically inclined “at all”, but the game’s design tools made the project doable – as does the time in quarantine.

“I’m lucky to be quarantined at home with pay,” u/MolangNeoi said, “so it’s a great way to keep myself busy.

“It’s nice to have tranquility when the world is going into panic mode.”

The game itself, set on a deserted island, tasks players with creating a new community in real-time, and allows players to visit each other’s personal islands, almost like putting on a Sixers jersey and heading to your friend’s house.

“It kind of sucks you in and makes you feel like you’re living a carefree life outside hanging out with your neighbors,” u/trashb4gs said, “even though in actuality we are all on day 5 of sitting inside in our sweatpants.

“Also it’s a good way to communicate with your actual friends who have the game while still keeping socially distant, because you can also visit their little islands using the internet! It’s really helped in keeping me zen during this weird time in our lives.”

Unsurprisingly, the trend has caught on with fans from all over.

Here are some NHL sweaters:

A few NFL uniforms:

A couple soccer uniforms:

A nice Colorado Rockies uniform:

And even eSports outfits:

The game is largely based on gardening, scavenging, and crafting – not exactly an obvious entry point for sports fans. But they’ve managed to put their fandoms into their tiny islands while they wait for their favorite athletes and teams to return to the real world.

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