Cornhole Classic brings bean-bag game to masses

There are three kinds of sports.  The ones played by super-human athletes, the ones played by everyone else ...  and cornholing.

"It's the sports version of lying in a hammock," said Nick Thompson, a casual cornholer.

It used to be parochial, restricted to a tailgating party or the backyard. But now the players of baggo, corn toss, bean bags,  or more commonly, cornhole, are seemingly everywhere. It's big in bars, neighborhood parks, and now at Soldier Field, where 1300 participants gathered in the stadium's south parking lot last weekend to share their love of tossing a bean bag.

The game splits the difference between horseshoes and beerpong. Players toss a one-pound bag filled with corn at a sloped box with a hole at one end. They earn three points if the bag drops in the hole, one if it stays atop the box.

There is skill involved -- a commodity that's sometimes hard to come by, considering that unofficial rules require  your non-tossing hand be equipped with a beer.

At the Cornhole Classic on Saturday, the game's ascent from its back-of-the-barroom roots was clear.

"I have seen it so many places," said Aaron Del Mar, the event's coordinator. "I just wanted to get something like this going, and make it an annual thing."

Cornhole aficionados traveled from all over the country to hang out on a sunny afternoon and toss some bags. Chelsea O'Connor came in from Kansas to meet her friend Erin Jacobsen for a long weekend.

"It's just a fun time," said O'Connor. "And it's a good excuse for a weekend trip."

The American Cornholing Association sponsored tournament featured three divisions of competitive, social and beginners for doubles and singles. At the end of the day, winning teams took home cash prizes and Chipotle burrito gift certificates.

"It's an opportunity for players to come out and see how good they really are," says Thompson.

The game obviously has something going for it as evidenced by the turnout. It also draws its players from a wide variety of age groups. On Saturday there were teams of college kids, college graduates, middle-aged folks and even father-son duos.

"It's got a little bit of everything," says Del Mar. "Part drinking game, part competitive it appeals to a lot of people."

With any new trend, though, there are questions of staying power. Will cornhole be looked back at twenty years down the road as passing fad?

"I don't think so," says John Roehrick of Wheeling. "I've been playing for two years and I don't see any signs of this thing slowing down."

Roehrick's partner, Tim Burke, summed up why cornhole has become so popular.

"Why go to class," he said, "when you can get drunk and cornhole?"

Discuss

KAT, 08-05-2007

Cornhole, Baggo, beanbags, whatever- is a fun game and can actually be used to teach the eye-hand coordination necessary for accurate underhand throwing. We have used it at the elementary school where I teach for that purpose, and even held an intramural tournament. The kids love it, and some have become quite good at it. It's current popularity kind of reminds me of when bocci ball became very popular again in the '80s. I think it will stick.