Beer pong has long been a go-to party pastime for high school and college students all over the U.S., but there now exists an emerging movement of people trying to disassociate the pong from the beer to turn it into a legitimate sport.
Place@Main has been hosting pong events for the past four years on and off, so when Sam Pines, founder of the World Pong Tour, approached the bar to see if they would be interested in hosting a tournament, it was a no-brainer.
“It’s not just about beer drinking and consumption, it’s about bringing the community together one cup at a time – that’s the World Pong motto – combining everyone together for a good purpose,” said Place@Main affiliate Josh Ludoff.
Pines started ponging in his dorm room while attending Marist College in Poughkeepsie while pursuing a degree in sports communications. That was in 2006.
“I took the potential I saw in the enjoyable game of pong and transformed it into an organized sport,” Pines said on his website. “I figured if golf is a sport where they hit a ball into a cup, why can’t this be a sport?”
Now, eight years later, Pines’ pong tour has taken him to 23 states, Mexico and Canada. He hosts about 100 tournaments per year.
“I really think this could be a national sport, on TV, ESPN, just like any other sport, like horse racing,” Pines said. “This is just as popular as any of those sports, and that’s really my dream.”
The winners of the tournament at Place@Main and of the $1,000 cash prize were Raphael Vargas and Pablo Correa, both 22, who comprised the team “Electric Ketchup.” They have been ponging since high school in Bridgeport.
Vargas plans to use the money to pay bills, and Correa is looking to buy some new sneakers.
“We live in Connecticut, either you dance or you play beer pong,” Correa said. “Pong is a part of our lifestyle. Whenever I go to a party the first thing I look for is a beer pong table. If there isn’t one, then the party is whack.”