Swig and a miss

The game seemed out of reach only a few plays before, but Derek Campbell and Alex Castro have somehow clawed their way back into contention. Derek, with beads of sweat forming at his brow, takes control of the ball, and steps up to attempt the game-winning shot. His teammate stands beside him as he concentrates on the goal, lifts his arms, aims, and gracefully flicks his wrist, sending the ball through the air and into the target.

Derek and Alex have won. To celebrate their triumphant comeback they lift their bottles of Dos XX and take a drink. It might not be as photo-worthy as, say, champagne baths in the locker room after an NBA Finals or guzzling milk in Victory Lane at the Indy 500, but beer pong is an entirely different animal. 

While athletes from around the globe convene in Beijing to compete in archery, volleyball, and rhythm gymnastics, a more casual game is being played weekly in bars across San Antonio. Beer pong, or beirut, has been a staple at college frat parties for years, but it’s only been two months since Rick Odom officially started the San Antonio Pong League for local bar patrons looking for an alternative to standard pool and darts.

“I noticed that I was tired of going to bars,” Odom said. “I was burned out on them. Here, in San Antonio, a lot of bars segregate themselves. But when you do beer pong, everyone comes together — everyone plays.”

Currently, the SAPL is made up of 43 teams and is continuing to grow weekly. From the testosterone-frenzied Beefmasters to the pop-culturally savvy PongDock Saints to the online-porn spoof team who call themselves 2 Girls 1 Cup, the SAPL is a diverse group of competitors.

“The fellowship from these guys is unreal,” said Chris Kingsley, who recently moved to San Antonio from New York City. “All these guys automatically accepted me into their circle when I showed an interest in playing. That’s what attracts you to this. Even newcomers come in and feel welcome.”

The bonhomie includes female players, Odom says, who are encouraged to join the league. Team Top Gun (they wear shirts with the names Goose and Maverick printed on the back), Ashley Schrader and Ally Jenschke of Fredericksburg, were recruited by friends to form their own unit. Although they admit they’re beer-pong “virgins,” the girls have practiced on a ping-pong table at home and are fairly certain they will be able to handle themselves among the vets. If not, they can always rely on their defensive tactics.

“I try and show a lot of cleavage and it usually works because the guys look at our boobs and not the cups,” Schrader said. “We’re girls. We have a complete advantage.”

If you’re interested in joining the SAPL visit myspace.com/sanantoniopongleague.

Don’t beer me

The object of beer pong is fairly simple: two two-wo/man teams take turns shooting a ping-pong ball into a group of cups at the end of a table. The team who makes the ball into every cup first wins.

Unlike most party versions of the game, in which cups are filled with beer, the SAPL (notice the exclusion of the letter B for “Beer”) fills its cups with water so players are not forced to drink alcohol based on the stellar performance of their competitors. Instead, SAPL players drink socially as the games go on (some still end up inebriated, which usually doesn’t help their hand-eye coordination).

“We do not encourage drinking,” Odom said. “The misconception about beer pong is that everyone plays with beer in the cups. A lot of college kids play like that because they want to get shitfaced hammered. Here, the guys drink, but we’re not stupid about it.”

Even if they wanted to replace the water with a foamy Corona, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission spokesperson Carolyn Beck says bars are not allowed to host drinking games.

“Rules say a bar can’t have any sort of practice that encourages excessive consumption,” Beck said. “When you have something like beer pong played the traditional way, where if you are doing poorly at it you end up drinking more, that would be a violation. But the way `SAPL` is playing, they seem to have found a `legal` way to do it.”

Kiko Martinez

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