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University's fastest-growing sport needs concrete rules

With the football team in less than exciting form, and the basketball season still a little ways away, I would like to take this opportunity to look at the fastest growing sport at the University.

This is a sport that combines minimal athletic ability with a tiny bit of luck. This is a sport that brings many participants together every week, regardless of gender, race or creed. This is a sport where the only criteria for success is in your tolerance of alcohol.

Yes, friends, I am talking about beer pong - possibly the greatest recreational activity ever devised since the development of the armchair quarterback or darts.

Just one year ago, beer pong tables in Charlottesville were sparsely seen decorations along 14th Street and in the back rooms of fraternity houses. But as the sport has exploded in the last year, beer pong tables have been appearing regularly at nearly every successful social gathering - indeed, it often can be these tables that make a party successful.

People come from all over to challenge each other on the plywood. The crown jewel of the local scene has been a collapsible table seen around Grounds. This table has been seen at Foxfield's, along 14th Street, down Wertland and even on the steps of the Rotunda.

For the three of you out there who have no idea what I am talking about, beer pong is a simple game in design. You have six cups on each side of a table (often on a ping-pong table) in a triangle shape. You then pour two cans of your favorite refreshing beverage equally into the cups (preferably 16-ounce Solo cups).

Once these steps have been completed, the fun begins. Each side has two players and takes turns shooting by team, with each player getting one shot per round to try and land a ping-pong ball into the opponent's cup. If your opponent lands a ball in your cup, you or your teammate is required to drink the contents of that cup. The first team to make all six cups wins.

Now you're saying, "Ben, why are you telling me about your weekend activities and explaining a subject I actually could get all As in?"

The reason is simple: There is a need for concrete rules in beer pong. Rules discrepancies are the number one issue for disputed or protested games. And believe me, it can get ugly. Too many weekends have gone by when I have witnessed some ignorant Hokie or burnt-out JMU student protesting the house rules of a U.Va. game.

In order to avoid these offensive situations with surly guests, I propose a University-wide system of rules to take effect immediately to provide some continuity in this most civilized of towns.

Rule 1: One re-rack, and one re-rack only. When three cups have been successfully made, the remaining three cups shall be placed once again into a triangle.

Rule 2: Knocked over cups shall not be refilled. If you or your partner are clumsy enough - or have been playing long enough - to knock over one of your own cups, that will count as a cup made for the other team. This rule is mainly in effect to discourage the hated lean-in shot.

Rule 3: Once a ball is tossed and has made contact with either the table or a cup, that ball is in play and may be batted away. This rule is to discourage the equally hated "JMU shot," in which a lesser opponent will try and bounce the ball into the cup rather than using skill to toss the ball into the cup. This rule also is effective in eliminating the nasty ricochet effect that is sometimes experienced during indoor games. And for the last time - blowing the ball out of the cup is the most illegal thing I've ever heard of. Anyone who attempts this, not in jest, automatically forfeits the game and is suspended from beer pong for the rest of the night.

Rule 4: If a team makes both shots in a round, they shall receive the balls back. This rule is purely to reward the true beer pong marksmen.

Rule 5: Redemption - when your opponent has made the last cup before you, each team member still has a shot to equalize. If you have three cups or more, good luck. You have to make every cup in a row to just get to overtime. If you have one or two cups and make them, then the game proceeds to overtime.

In overtime, one canned beverage shall fill a triangle of three cups and play shall resume as it would in Rule 1, until one side wins. The exception to this last rule is making two shots in a row to end the game. If two cups are made in a row, or a team makes the last cup twice, then the game is automatically over with no chance for redemption. Once again, this is to reward the true beer pong marksmen.

Hopefully this will solve the problem of contested matches, at least at this honorable institution. I look forward to seeing you all on the table soon.

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