"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Let's get cornholed!

Considering my typical state of being behind-the-curve on social and cultural trends, it should come as no surprise that I am just now learning about a phenomenon that is sweeping the nation even as I type these words. It is, of course, the great sport of Cornhole.

If Beavis and Butthead happen to be reading this post, please withhold your titters ("Huh huh, he said 'cornhole'. He said 'titters', huh huh.") as I am referring not to a certain puckered body part but to the game of Cornhole, which involves tossing a one-pound bag of, er, corn into a ... well, a hole ... from a distance of 30 or so feet. Hence the name. The more easily offended may refer to it by any of several other names including "corn toss", "the bean bag game", and the ultra-family-friendly "Baggo". However, most aficionados of the sport simply call it "Cornhole", and refer to themselves and other players as "Cornholers". Perhaps the scatological reference accounts in some part for its popularity, but this sucker has become a huge pastime, especially in the Midwest. (Stephen Colbert recently featured a segment on the game during his show, in which he jokingly referred to it as "a cross between horseshoes and sodomy.") It is known as somewhat of a redneck sport, possibly due to the fact that it only requires one hand to play, leaving the other hand free to hold a beer. It is very popular at tailgate parties and among college students.

Of course, "beanbag toss" has been around for a very long time, but The Official Cornhole Game -- with it's attendant rules of play, equipment specifications, leagues, etc., is said to have originated on the west side of Cincinnati. From there, it spread to the Chicagoland area and has probably taken over the entire country by now. There are large-scale tournaments, and even an organization called The American Cornhole Association which promotes the game.

For anyone who, like me, has never heard of this before, the basics of the game (although the rules can vary) are as follows: you play either with teams of multiple players per side or simply one-on-one. Each "inning" consists of four bag tosses by each side at a slanted 2 by 4 foot target with a six-inch hole near the top. The two targets are placed 30 feet apart. For each bag that goes into (or hangs over) the hole, the player scores three points. A bag that lands on the board but not in the hole gets one point. Each inning, the team (or player) with the most points subtracts the points scored by the opposing side to determine the inning score. For example; suppose you get six points and your opponent gets four ... your net score for the inning is two points. The first team to reach 21 points wins (more specifics here).

One thing that fascinates me about this sport -- other than being able to use the word "cornhole" repeatedly in a blog post -- is what a grassroots phenomenon it has been. The bags and play boards are by and large home-made, ranging from simple "naked" plywood targets all the way up to elaborately painted, stained, shellacked, and otherwise decorated works of art. Folks apparently take a lot of pride in the quality and appearance of their Cornhole set construction, and drag them around to show them off to other Cornholers. There are not yet, as far as I can tell, any big-name sporting goods manufacturers making Cornhole sets for purchase in stores, (and when they do you can bet they'll be called something else) but for those lacking even the modest carpentry skills needed to make their own set of targets, plenty of home craftsmen are selling them from their back yards, on eBay, and at web sites like this one.

I think it looks like fun, so I'll have to try it out and file a report for y'all. And in case Beavis and Butthead are still following along, one of the optional rules provides that the winner of the game is entitled to be referred to as "The Great Cornholio" for the next 24 hours after the match, huh huh.


  • At 10/18/2007 06:00:00 PM, Blogger Sphincter said…

    I had no idea. Thanks for the 411.

  • At 10/23/2007 07:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well, I'm just speechless. I keep coming back to this, thinking I'll have something to say. But no; I just don't. Cornhole is just a game that I never want to say that I've played with you or Mrs. Toast, for that matter.

  • At 12/27/2010 09:15:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    you can also check out www.cornhole-bagtoss.com


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