Monday, July 14, 2008

The Sport of Beer Pong

Now some people may not consider this a sport but with the upturn in high stakes tournaments, that notion should be revisited. I mean there's a World Series of Beer Pong with $50,000 prize for first place. If poker is a sport then why not beer pong. Beer pong at least involves some coordination. Poker might involve some mental toughness and strategy, but not really any type of physical ability or coordination. Throwing a ping pong ball into a cup with accuracy is not easy. Add excessive amounts of beer and it can be incredibly challenging.

I think the beer is probably what the main hurdle in the game being considered a sport. On the other hand there is a high level of competition. There are leagues and tournaments all over the country, and of course the aforementioned World Series. This is not just a game for drunk frat boys anymore.

For those of you unfamiliar with beer pong, there are many different variations. (It is also called Beirut) But since its my blog, I'm going to use the rules that my friends and I play with. Here's a brief overview. You get an 8' long table and put 10 cups on each side in a pyramid formation. There are 2 players on each side and two balls. Each player has a chance to throw one ball into the opponents cups. If the player hits the cup, the opponent must remove that cup. Opponents should drink but are not required to. (People who consistently do not drink face ridicule.) If both teammates hit cups then they get to shoot one more ball. Then the other team does the same thing. The goal is to get rid of all of your opponents cups, get drunk, and claim bragging rights, and maybe even win some money.

There is a whole industry developing around organizing leagues and tournaments, making tables and other accessories, and even an independent film. (I have not seen the film but I've heard it's not that great.) So if you are one to write this off as some passing fad, then you should think again. The popularity and skill level in competitive beer pong has only been growing.

The increased popularity and organization of the game has led to much increased skill level and competition. Now I'm not saying that beer pong should be an Olympic sport but people should at least give it a little recognition. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that 90% of American between the ages of 18 and 30 have heard of beer pong. And probably 75% of those people have played it at one time or another. So its not exactly as if this game is only being played by a tiny portion of the population.

Yes, it may cause you to break a sweat, or put you at risk for terrible injuries (though since there is drinking involved there is always a chance) but it takes more coordination than poker, which is regularly on ESPN2 and is more popular than curling, an Olympic sport. And with the slew of high stakes tournaments around the country, I think it deserves a little respect.

So next time someone talks about how good they are at beer pong. Don't scoff or say there's nothing to it. Nod and realize they may be making more from it than you are from online poker. And at least they're being social.