REMINDER: This blog is solely the views of Edju Martin and does not reflect the views of the WCCC as a whole
Earlier this year the WCCC started running two divisions at our weekend tournaments, an Advanced division and a Social division. We now refer to those division as Competitive & Beginner, as we feel it reflects better the goals we have for each tournament. For the Competitive division, we want it to be, uh, competitive. Pretty self-explanatory. Now, to an outsider, Beginner would be pretty self-explanatory as well – they’d be beginners to the game.
Well, it ain’t that simple. And honestly, it really shouldn’t be. A lot of things in cornhole are black & white, and should be. 27 feet from front to front. 6 inch holes. However, when the complex issue of human beings comes into play, there’s a grayness that settles over everything like dust on furniture, and the old proverb that opinions are like assholes – everyone has one – is so, so true when it comes to this subject.
Let’s make one thing clear – Social divisions at ACL National, Conference, and Regional events are completely different animals from local or fundraiser tournaments. Although there are many ACL regionals that do have charitable elements, the majority of events above the local level are largely populated by those that want to compete and win with those at their skill level. At those events, it’s strictly about the cornhole, and there’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever. But, you can’t apply the same standards to a local fundraiser. Most local fundraiser have a split between those that are there to compete with other top players and win, and those that barely know the difference between a fourbagger and a foreskin, but want to toss some bags, have some fun, and raise money for a worthy cause.
Now, it’s also not crystal clear where you draw the line. Some directors have advocated barring anyone that plays in a weekly event from playing Beginner. I disagree with that. Not everyone that plays weekly actually cares about getting better, and want different things out of cornhole. Perhaps they just like hanging out with their friends while tossing a few bags, maybe they stumbled upon the event and it’s a time filler, who knows? The bottom line is that a good tournament director knows who is playing and can make a determination of where a player should play.
Also, in a doubles event, the best player of the duo should govern what division they qualify for. For example, Cody Henderson could decide to play with me in a tournament. This is about as likely as me winning Olympic gold in the 100 meters, but go with it. Anyways, just because I’m utterly horrific at the game of cornhole doesn’t mean we get to play Beginner. It would be completely unfair to let Mr. Henderson obliterate a new player because I suck. I’ve heard arguments basically stating “it’s unfair that I have to play in Competitive since I have no chance of winning.” That argument holds no water. If you’re skilled enough to play in Competitive, then allowing you to play in Beginner would basically give most in Beginner no chance of winning, and it’s simply not fair to ruin Beginner to accommodate those that are clearly better than Beginner but not quite there as far as playing deep into a Competitive tournament.
Part of growing the game is introducing new players to the game. If they are thrown into tournaments against players that clearly have no business being there, that can be disheartening and people may not continue on if they get smoked continuously. That helps no one except a few that are looking out for #1. My job as a tournament director is to make it fair for all, not to cater to a few. If that means that turnouts are lower, so be it. I’d rather have 35 teams have a good experience than 50 show up and 20 leave disgruntled.
The bottom line is, fair tournaments are paramount, and everyone should be playing in an appropriate division for the event.
Thanks for reading and we’ll see you soon!