Ask anyone about beer pong history and the response you’ll get will be something along the lines of “Dude … beer pong has a history?” It seems like the game just sprung forth fully formed at some point in the misty past.
But yes, it does have a long (and somewhat disputed) history. Played originally by using paddles to launch the ball, the game has evolved to the paddle-less version found commonly on campuses today.
Beer Pong History – The Invention of the Game
After some research, we found that some fine scholars at Dartmouth apparently invented the game at some point in the 1950s. Unfortunately, the only citations for that claim are a marginally-related New York Times article that’s buried behind their paywall, and a 2004 article that turns out to be about Princeton history.
Perhaps a clue can be found in the game’s alternative (and less popular) name: Beirut. Beirut is Lebanon’s capital. This is the information that would probably not be on the radar of the average college-aged beer aficionado in America … so does this mean that Lebanese immigrants are to be thanked for the game of beer pong?
More likely, it means that we can date the origins of the name back to the mid-1970s, when Beirut made international news for being the center of conflict because of the country’s long-running civil war. Our witty fraternity scholars likely made the humorous connection between beer pong’s competitive nature and the bloody carnage taking place in a distant country. Stay classy, frats.
The written word can be a very slippery thing, especially on the internet. For every claim you see online that Dartmouth sanctioned beer pong as an intramural sport in the 1970s, or that some class of 1950-something member recalled playing it in an interview, there’s a citation link behind it that takes you absolutely nowhere (or just no citation.) So who can we trust?
Well, a photo is worth a thousand (poorly cited) words, right? The earliest picture that can be found online depicts non-paddle beer pong being played at Bucknell in 1980.
So after all this research, what can we say with absolute confidence about the origins of beer pong?
“It was invented by some frat guys at some point in the 20th century or something.”
At the average beer pong game, that’s likely to be a perfectly acceptable explanation.
Let the Games Begin!
The day-to-day grind of college life, including studies, tests, work, and everything else that goes along with college needs to be balanced with recreation. Beer pong is a natural and fun outlet. If ambrosia is the nectar of the gods, then it is most certainly their recreation.
Unlike other recreational sports, beer pong has minimal investment cost with maximum enjoyment, and partiers can play this game in the comfort of their own homes. Some cups, some balls, a beer pong table (or any flat playing surface), of course, the beer, and the good times will flow.
The only thing that remains is deciding which version of beer pong will be played. Players usually go by the most common version of beer pong. Some other versions require more complicated setups, and some have very few rules. However, all involve drinking and competitiveness. What’s more fun than that?
The game has a tendency to become a little rowdy and raucous. There is also the potential for cheating. After all, if the purpose is to drink, it’s not much fun if your talent at making shots forces the other team to drink all the shots, now is it? The answer really rests on how competitive the players are and whether winning or drinking is more entertaining.
Since its birth, beer pong has grown from being a recreational drinking game to a competitive sport. In the world of the competitive tournament, shocking as it might seem, the alcohol has taken a back seat to monetary rewards.
No matter which version you play, beer pong is a great way to have fun and blow off steam as long, as it’s done legally and responsibly.
Regardless of its history, the game will likely continue to grow in popularity.
Beer Pong Today
Do you remember how beer pong was like 8 years ago? It’s not something mentioned often but it’s worth a thought. Sure, some of us might still think of a “college party” or a “backyard picnic”, but in actuality, beer pong has come a long way. This sport went from being a well-known game to a full-fledged sport. Want to brush up on your beer pong knowledge? Then you better read this!
This game has evolved into a national sport and is being played by all sorts. The people who take beer pong very seriously practice and play satellite games all around the United States. Depending on how much time you want to put in playing beer pong, you can end up playing in Vegas. Every year in Las Vegas, BPong.com holds a championship event in which a $50,000 prize is given to the winner of the tournament.
On a smaller scale, there are a lot of local bars and communities forming their own beer pong leagues and hosting tournaments as well. Even these local games have prizes and cash give away for the winners. Many of the players at these games will use water to play instead of beer to keep their skills sharp during the game.
Burgers, dogs, and beer pong anyone? Folks who tailgate at big events such as football games, performances, etc. will set up and play a game of beer pong. The game has become pretty common on these occasions. For some individuals, beer pong has turned into a ritual when they go tailgating. Some have even made their own personal tables with their favorite teams pictured on them.
Beer pong is even being played on late-night TV with Jimmy Fallon with big stars like Kelly Ripa, Lucy Liu, Jessica Alba, and even Betty White. I even watched an infomercial at Wild West deals and the main feature item was a beer pong table. People upload their beer pong game videos all the time on youtube, showing off their skills and custom-made tables.
This sport has come a long way. You can get professionally made tables that are regulation size. These tables are also portable and fold up nicely. There are special cups, balls with logos on them, tee shirts, and all sorts of apparel with a beer pong theme. Like I said before, things have definitely changed!
When it comes to beer pong, just remember to play responsibly and have a good time. Let’s face it, fun has always been the intent of the game of beer pong.