Is Beer Pong Really Beer Pong Without the Beer?

If you were king or queen of the beer pong court in college, it might be time to dust off your balls (the ping pong type), because now you can go pro.  The World Beer Pong Tour wrapped up a tournament in Atlantic City, NJ last week, with the winners (some nerds from California called “Drinkin’ Smokin’ Straight West Coastin’”) coming away $25,000 richer.  That’s serious money.  Maybe they can use it to pay their parents back for all that squandered tuition.

Actually, they should give it back in protest because the competition is kinda bogus.  You see, the cups are filled with water.  That’s right, they’re playing beer pong without beer.

Click on the pic to read the AP article. It says that about "100 contestants looked like Eminen." I'd say that sounds about right.

Some of you might rightly say that the macrobrews used to catch the dirty ping pong balls might as well be water, but they at least have some alcohol content.  And that alcohol is a key factor in the game, as the defending team must drink the beer out of every cup that’s hit by the opposition.  Over time, swigging those swill soaked Solo cups will affect aim, strategy, and eventually your ability or desire to keep your pants on.  Playing beer pong with water is like putting UFC fighters in those giant inflatable Sumo Warrior costumes. It takes away a big component of the game.

Or so I theorize.  As I read about the World Beer Pong Tour, I realized that I’ve never actually played beer pong.  I guess that’s what you get for staying local and commuting to college.  Do you think this is going to affect my chances of going pro?

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Categories: Beer, Lifestyle

Author:Jim Galligan

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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44 Comments on “Is Beer Pong Really Beer Pong Without the Beer?”

  1. June 22, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    It’s never too late Jim! Just train Rocky style and you’ll be on your way.

    I must have played hundred of games of beer pong in college and around my junior year people started switching to using water in the cups. BUT, the rule was you still had the drink the same amount of beer you would have, except you had your own personal beer can.

    If you think about it, playing beer pong with beer in the cups is really disgusting. Imagine it’s 3am and dozens of people have been using the same beer cups, water cups, and balls since 6pm. You’re asking to come down with some sort of disease. I like this “hygienic” beer pong, but it looks like in this competition they don’t drink any beer at all.

    So no, I don’t call that beer pong lol.

    • June 22, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

      Wow – I guess our society will put sneeze guards on everything, huh? Isn’t foot-and-mouth disease part of the charm?

      • June 23, 2010 at 9:04 am #

        Gotta agree here, Jim….first of all, it’s not beer pong if no beer is being consumed…that’s part of the challenge, just like any other drinking game. And yeah, I think the “foot-and-mouth disease” is part of the charm, like you say. Nothing like sanitizing the crap out of everything to destroy a game concept…I say play with whiskey…that way the ABV kills any germs there may be :)

        • Don
          June 23, 2010 at 9:52 am #

          Katie, next time I come East were playing Whiskey Pong at your house! You’re roasting a pig, and making truffles. And your son and Jim’s kids can sneak off into the woods with a warm bottle of Belgian beer while the parents get wrecked playing Whiskey Pong! Sound good?

        • June 23, 2010 at 9:59 am #

          I’m in!

      • June 23, 2010 at 10:13 am #

        Sounds like your average Saturday night at my house…I’m in! But if I’m making the pig and the truffles, you’re bringing the whiskey and Jim’s bringing the wheelbarrow, which you’ll no doubt need to cart me inside at the end of the night.

        • Don
          June 23, 2010 at 10:32 am #

          Deal!

  2. June 22, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

    The crap beer that people normally drink during this is roughly equivalent to water anyway. My brother used a milk stout of beer pong on several occasions. Anyway, I agree with you, part of the challenge is the inebriation. It’s surely a waste of time either way but much more so if there’s no beer. These guys are serious dorks for playing hydropong.

    • June 22, 2010 at 3:43 pm #

      You’re right Mike. And I like the title “hydropong” because it sounds exactly as dorky as this watered down game.

  3. June 22, 2010 at 4:53 pm #

    Is nothing sacred? What’s next? Fill the cups with air?

    • June 22, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

      I heard they’re going to shrink wrap the balls in anti-bacterial plastic, Scott.

      • Don
        June 22, 2010 at 5:28 pm #

        Kathy already did that…she keeps them in her purse. Oh…you meant ping pong balls…OHHH that’s MUCH different…Nevermind!

  4. June 23, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    I’ve never played beer pong…but since I’m no germ-a-phobe, I think I could hack it with beer in the cups.

    Back in college my buddies and I used to play “Edward Forty Hands.” It involved a 40 ounce of swill duct taped to each hand. The cheap beer couldn’t be removed till the bottle was empty. Entertaining and challenging.

    • Don
      June 23, 2010 at 11:03 am #

      Being an older guy, to me the biggest challenge would be to consume 80 ounces of liquid without having to pee with two forties duck taped to my hands! It does sound like a goofy and fun game however, despite the crappy beer.

      • June 23, 2010 at 11:29 am #

        It seems like ages ago…I don’t recall the bathroom scenario, but it does sound like a problem.

        To be honest, I have only played drinking games 2 or 3 times, and that was before I had kids (Oldest is 7.5 yo).

        • Don
          June 23, 2010 at 11:47 am #

          I’ve only played a few myself too Nate. The big game was Quarters. You had to take turns trying to bounce a quarter into a glass of beer, and if you did you drank. Pretty simple, but it was social and fun. The other game I played was “Hi Bob”. Man can you get shitfaced playing that game! Basically you watch the Bob Newhart show and every time they say Bob you had to take a drink, and every time someone said ‘Hi Bob” you had to shoot a beer! I once drank a whole 6 pack in about 22 minutes playing that game! Yikes. Good thing it was fizzy yellow brew, because something more substantial and I couldn’t function.

      • June 23, 2010 at 11:55 am #

        Yeah, I imagine it’s hard to navigate your business with two bottles strapped to your hands.

      • June 23, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

        We played quarters as well (sometimes speed quarters which used 2 shot glasses). There was also 3 Man and Bullshit. As for the “Hi Bob” game you mentioned, I’ve heard that people play a drinking game with Rachel Ray: one shot for “yummo” two shots for “EVOO” etc.

  5. BeeR Grylls
    June 23, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    Well back to the actual subject here… Is it beer pong? Yes and No. I typically drink when playing in “beer” pong tournaments. But you must understand that no legal establishment with an alcohol license can enforce binge drinking or they will be shut down very quickly. This was tried at a bar in Kansas and they were unsuccessful. I have played numerous games of beer pong while in college and enjoyed every minute of it. Now looking back at some of the apartments and houses I played at in college I feel slightly grossed out about it. I do now play by official World Series of Beer Pong rules and run my own league. They are much less argumentative from the 100′s of various styles that college kids play. You must understand that these people are playing for money, so drinking is their personal decision. I however feel I play much better when I have downed about 6 or 7 beers and start to catch that quick buzz. If you are asking them to change the name of the game to hydro pong or water pong then good luck because it’s not going to happen. I am sure over 90% of the people in the tournament are drinking while playing and if you have enough skill to make it to the final tables then you most likely pretty drunk or I know I will be. Yeah I said skill because it does involve skill and I truly believe it is a sport.

    I really enjoy this mission statement from BOMBED BEER PONG

    Some call it Beer Pong, others Beirut. We call it the best sport ever. No matter what you call it, Beer Pong is a sport where inches separate winners from losers. It is a sport where excellence comes from accuracy and consistency and greatness comes from the mental fortitude to weather the storms of distractions and smack talk. Beer Pong is a sport where legends are born one cup at a time.

    Anyways it’s a lot of fun playing tournament style or college style and most will consume beer no matter what…

    • June 23, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

      Thanks for the great response. I’m okay with calling it “Beirut” (that’s what they called it @ my wife’s college), but if beer is in the title, I say beer must be in the glasses and players should drink. I’m just saying if there’s a game called “beer darts,” you drink the beer. If it’s just “darts” and you play better with a nice buzz but the guy next to you is straight sober, that’s a personal decision.

      I also say my opinion doesn’t really matter, and the world of Amish Beer Pong (or whatever you want to call it without beer) will continue on, even if I disagree.

      All that said, have fun, call it whatever the hell you want to and I hope you’re part of the crew that dethrones Drinkin’ Smokin’ Straight West Coastin’!

      And thanks for taking the time to share your opinion!

  6. BeeR Grylls
    June 23, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    HaHa Amish Beer Pong! That’s great… Damn laws ruin all the fun

  7. Joe
    June 29, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

    Hey, maybe you should do a bit of research before commenting…. 1) In most states it is illegal to play drinking games because it promotes binge drinking so you put water in the cups as a loophole… Most serious players are used to water for this reason. 2) If you think that these people are sober…. You are out of your mind. I was there and yes a few may be sober but most are pretty trashed. 3) The inebriation is more helpful in this situation than hurtful…. Try having a bunch of people chanting at you while you are playing, it’s nice to have some alcohol running through you to calm the nerves. 4) and final… If you want to play pong with beer in Atlantic City, you can… Have fun drinking beer that has been infected by around 700 people’s germs plus whatever the ball picks up from the floor. Go ahead and use your water cup to wash it off, it’s definitely clean (Sarcasm if you couldn’t catch it through the text)…

    • June 29, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

      Good points there, Joe.

      But I still have a problem calling it beer pong when there’s no beer in the cups. It’s another example of lawyers putting sneeze guards on our society. Beer pong is a binge drinking game – that the sole reason it exists – to facilitate binge drinking, usually amongst minors. If that won’t fly in bars or at tournaments, call it something else, like water darts or hydropong, and I’m good.

      And here’s something else that just popped into my head and I’m sharing with no research to back me up. Doesn’t the “professional” beer pong tournament thing promote underage binge drinking by promoting a game that was created to make girls panties fall off and guys to have crude stuff written on their faces with Sharpies after they pass out? Does all the Internet press lead to greater awareness and participation (using real beer) amongst a too-young demo? Just a thought.

      Also, to be clear, research takes work and this is a blog. Case closed.

      And I just checked out http://www.indiemusictoday.com and like it. Is it your blog?

  8. Joe
    June 29, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    BeeR Grylls….. Nice!!! I wish I would have read this far down before commenting.

    • BeeR Grylls
      June 29, 2010 at 5:00 pm #

      haha yeah looks like we agreed on every point there

      • June 29, 2010 at 5:29 pm #

        Sure, gang up on me! Just because you guys know what the hell you’re talking about…

  9. Steve
    June 30, 2010 at 3:20 pm #

    Theres also something called “liability” – this event was held at a casino, and it was an 18+ event. All the casino needed was some 18 year old kid driving home drunk coming from there. Give me a break guys. Think before you type please. Its beer pong, people consumed beer from 9am in the morning til 6am the next day. Just because its not in the cups doesnt mean anything.

    • June 30, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

      I did think before I typed, Steve. I thought, “how can you call it beer pong without beer in the cups? It’s a big part of the game.” That was my thought, and I wrote it down here. I think it’s a reasonable response to what I read, and I’m confident that I’m not the only person who has had that thought. And I’m sure this isn’t the first place you’ve heard someone raise this argument.

      I get it that you guys are having fun and that safety, sanitation and legality all have to be factored into how the competitions operate. But so far I’ve heard nothing from you or the rest of the beer pong defenders that has changed my mind. You can rationalize it all you’d like, but I still think a fundamental part of what makes beer pong what it is (the beer in the cups) is missing.

      I think it’s cool that folks like you are out there turning a game they love into more than a hobby, and I hope your “sport” continues to grow and be successful. I just have trouble hearing it called beer pong. Sorry.

      • BeeR Grylls
        June 30, 2010 at 4:27 pm #

        Check out this article Jim:
        http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=3831916

        ESPN is even calling it a Sport… and I expect they will actually even cover the WSOBP this year in Vegas.

        Also, you have an option to fill the first 6 cups with beer in WSOBP, which I will definitely be doing. In tournament play there are 10 cups on each side of the table versus the traditional college 6 cup pyramid.

        • Don
          June 30, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

          Well I wouldn’t go all self righteous about ESPN calling Beer Pong a sport. They also say Poker, Cricket, and Bassmaster is a sport too. Anything that takes less exertion than bowling shouldn’t be considered a sport. To think of beerpong as a sport is like considering coal mining a recreational activity. There is nothing sport like about it. It is plain and simple a drinking game for rednecks whose parents forced them to go to college. Sheesh next thing they’ll want to consider horseshoes a track and field event!

  10. BeeR Grylls
    July 1, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    Oh whatever Don… We all know you consider masturbation to be a sport. There’s a shaft and balls involved and requires you great amount of exertion to get it up (bald). We can only assume you keep a record of your best times. You also probably drink a lot of whiskey to make even more of a challenge. Just a drinking game for rednecks is a harsh statement and completely aronious. I’ve been providing factual statements on this thread and have been open minded to others opinions, but your opinion by far is the most ridiculous. Stop rubbing out your negativity on your blog page.

    • July 1, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

      It’s okay to get personal if it’s funny, but that’s not funny, clever or even interesting. You just exposed yourself as being a total ass, dude.

      And if masturbation were a sport, would the best time be the quickest, or the longest?

      • BeeR Grylls
        July 1, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

        I apologize for the disrespect it was spur of the moment… And to answer your question I think they are two totally different events of the same “Sport”.

        • July 1, 2010 at 12:17 pm #

          Imagine if you were good at both – that’d be impressive!

    • Don
      July 1, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

      Well this comment really kinda proves my point. But you are correct The rednecks comment was a little harsh and I own that. But what the hell, its my blog, I say what I feel. But a sport? Really? Any game that can be played by my grand parents or a 500 lb dude like Norm on Cheers is not a sport. It is a game like mahjong with alcohol.

      • BeeR Grylls
        July 1, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

        Very true it is your blog… I guess if you were good at both you could possibly be a porn star… I just saw a tampon stuck to the front of a stop sign… Do you think whomever this may be is trying to tell BP to stop the leak! Was kind of uncalled for but at least it wasnt used…

      • July 1, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

        You mean Porn Olympian, proudly representing the US of A in the sprint and the marathon, right?

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