Outdoor drinking games call for athletic excellence – The Oberlin Review
As we approach summer, outdoor yard games are becoming a central part of American life. For many, these games are seen as a way to kill time with friends or an excuse for a drink, but they also highlight complex sporting and cultural dynamics.
Fourth-year player Yanni Sarrimanolis believes his football team’s beer-to-beer tradition is a way for him and his teammates to continue to compete at a high level in their offseason.
“You’re not just sitting around drinking,” he said. “You move, you become active. You have to be able to run around a table and pivot. This translates well physically. It’s also a cultural thing. Sometimes it gets competitive.
The beer industry can certainly be an opportunity for people to show off their athletic prowess. It involves throwing a die at least eight feet in the air with the goal of landing it in the opponent’s cups or bouncing it off the table and onto the floor. Opponents can steal a point by catching the die after it hits the table.
Sarrimanolis explained how rulemaking can add intensity to the game. He discussed a unique rule he followed that requires any player who puts the dice in their own cup to call their mother and s apologize for his embarrassing performance in the game in front of everyone.
“I’ve done this twice in my career, which is too much, but my mum thought it was funny both times,” he said.
Spikeball is another game that has caught the attention of backyard athletes and daytime drinkers in recent years. Third-year Sander Ferrazza loves the game, but feels a burden as the owner of the Spikeball set within his group of friends.
“As an owner…you have to monitor the net,” he said. “There was an incident where I loaned him out and he came back broken. Everything was resolved, but there’s a lot of pressure.
The tension of the spikeball net itself is something that requires great attention to detail, which Ferrazza points out.
“You go back and forth – it’s a fine-tuned process,” he said. “You have to adapt to the humidity. There are a lot of conditions that affect the gameplay, so you have to make it perfect.
While spikeball is meant to be a fun game, debating the rules can spark conflict. One of the most debated rules of spikeball is whether a point can be awarded after the ball bounces off a pocket created by the net and rim. The official rules state that pockets are only allowed on serves, but that does not prevent players from challenging them.
“It depends on regional differences,” Ferrazza said. “I’ve played where hitting a pocket counts, I’ve played where it doesn’t count, I’ve even played where it counts to hit the rim. I’d rather the pocket be played. It’s just a part of the game.”
Cornhole, a staple of the Midwest, is a game third-year baseball player Jackson Schaum is passionate about.
“If you’re someone who comes to the Midwest and doesn’t know what cornhole is or refers to it with the wrong name like ‘bags,’ you could be executed, or at least publicly humiliated by a local. Midwest,” he said. “You can’t say you’ve really visited the Midwest until you’ve played cornhole.”
Although he praises the game, which involves tossing sacks filled with corn or beans into a hole in a wooden plank wedged at a 10-degree angle, Schaum doesn’t think there’s anything incredibly unique about it.
“It’s a bit like [as other games] but we hold him near and dear to our hearts,” he said.
Beer pong might just be America’s favorite outdoor party game. Although it is a simple game on the surface, there are many intricacies involved in achieving success. Schaum is known for his diagonal alignment method when shooting.
“I think I’m pretty good at pointing it the right way, but determining the depth is often questionable,” he said. “If I give myself a straight line of cups to shoot at, I have a bigger margin for error.”
Third-year Thayer Preston is a streaky player, but can get extremely hot with his direct approach to line shooting.
“With all athletes, you get in and out of shape,” he said. “Some nights, if you feel it, you throw sneaky hands and left hands. It’s about finding a rhythm and sticking to it.
Preston recalled a night on campus last year when he won a one-on-one beer pong tournament due to his extremely hot shot.
“When you leave, it feels good,” he said. “Really good.”