This is crunch time, folks. The sun is setting, and it's been hours since the last bathroom break. But both teams are showing their stamina and tossing strong, thanks to the support of a nearby cooler.
On one side, the brothers from SoCal, who, after starting out with some downright embarrassing mishits, have battled their way back. On the other side, the reigning champs, a couple of former Huskies—flashy for sure, but this time they've got more than they bargained for.
And the next toss is up...and...it's...stuck on the rim. Rough luck for the challengers.
Shot two for the UW alum: interesting. She's going for the sidearm. Not her strong suit. And...yeah. Well. That didn't work out. Now she's setting her beer down. Not a good sign.
Shot three for the brothers:...up...and in the dirt. Wow. Looks like someone's let the pressure get to him.
Now for the Huskies to bring this one home. Going to have to be a finesse shot, though, clean through the hole without taking the opponent's bag with it. A real low-percentage deal. It's up...and...I don't believe it! She's managed to ace it! That bag didn't even touch the hole or the opponent's toss as it rocketed in! Brilliant. Game over.
This is cornhole. The game that dare not speak its name is not your mother's backyard pastime, but toss her a corn-filled bag and she's liable to get hooked just like the rest of us.
Cornhole is nothing new; folks in strange, far-off lands like Cincinnati and Chicago have been playing it for decades, but it's slowly trickling West thanks to a few local cornhole enthusiasts. (Apparently, there are more than 500 card-carrying members of the American Cornhole Association in our great state.)
The game is pretty straightforward. Think horseshoes, but the targets are boxes that slope up to a hole at the end. Contestants have three corn-filled bags—the perfect counterweight to having a beer in the other hand, says the American Cornhole Association's founder and president, Mike Whitton. Players take turns tossing until one team gets to 21.
Though cornhole is typically played outdoors (you need 33 feet between targets), it's so addictive that it's not uncommon for players to rig lights so they can toss all night long.
I know. I got hooked last summer. It's just something about the thud, thud of the bags hitting the board. They way that, if you do it just right, the bags will hit first, then slide into the hole—and once in a while, the perfect up-and-down toss that never sees daylight.
Cornhole appeals to all ages and all capabilities, Whitton says: "It's easy to play and easy to set up. It doesn't damage your yard like horseshoes and isn't dangerous like lawn darts. College kids love it. It's a fun tailgate game and a fun drinking game." He notes that he's even played against people in wheelchairs—and an 80-year-old guy. "This game is a great equalizer," Whitton adds.
But Whitton says he does get complaints from "anal retentive" people about the game's name. He says he heard from one "good Christian lady" the other day who asked him if he knew about the sexual act of the same name and said he should stop promoting it.
"I e-mailed her back and said, look, I know what the connotations are, but 10 years from now it will be in the dictionary as a family backyard game," Whitton says. "That's what I'm promoting, not what you're talking about."
But Whitton's no prude when it comes to his favorite game's giggle-inducing title. "Our T-shirts say cornhole. Am I playing off the name? You bet. But what else would you call something where you throw a bag of corn through a hole!"
Let the revolution begin. Check out Whitton's Web site, www.playcornhole.org, for everything from rules to tourney info. And visit www.cornholeparty.com/build/cornhole_plans.pdf for step-by-step directions on how to build your own set.
Get goin' and get cornholin'!