Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
a little of the glory of, well time slips away
and leaves you with nothing mister but
boring stories of glory days
~ “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen
It was about a decade ago on the campus of Indiana University that my buddy Nick and I produced a moment of sporting glory so thoroughly dominant and impressive that it has lived on and will continue to live on forever.
Sure, it lives on in our minds only, but who’s really keeping track of silly details like that?
Beer Pong Glory Days
One night, on our home table, we strung together somewhere between 14-19 straight beer pong victories. (The exact number gets hazier and hazier as I get older, but it’s somewhere in that range.) We defeated all challengers, some more than once. We won in every way imaginable: beating some them thoroughly; executing amazing 5- and 6-cup comebacks; and hitting clutch shot after clutch shot, even as our words slurred, vision blurred, and we were forced to “aim at the middle cup” when only one was left on the table.
The zenith of the evening was a friend of ours pacing back and forth in the parking lot after a particularly dramatic loss, heads held behind his head, muttering that we must have made a deal with the devil to be so good.
From that night forward, we were known as Team Diablo in our small but intimate circle of beer pong-playing friends. A legend had been born. And the legend will never die. (Well, for at least two of us it will never die, and for Nick’s wife who has to hear us discuss it at Team Diablo reunions.)
But you really couldn’t care less, and I don’t blame you. I just wanted to put the story and name Team Diablo on the Internet to live on in perpetuity. And when else would I have a chance to do that but now, in a post discussing the world’s newest official beer pong product: Pong Beer.
That’s right, there is now an official beer for beer pong.
Can Pong Beer Succeed?
For us, it was always 30 packs of Keystone Light that we’d stumble down to the nearby Village Pantry to purchase (2 men, 4 arms, 120 BEERS!) or, of course, whatever the keg of choice was for that evening’s non-studious collegiate festivities (which were always undertaken with great responsibility, mind you.)
But my preference was Keystone. It wasn’t that it necessarily tasted good, because obviously it did not, but it just became tradition.
And in college, tradition (and price) matters. And since 99.95% of all beer pong games are played by college students (my rough estimate off the top of my head) that means that for beer pong tradition (and price) matters.
And that’s why I don’t like the idea of Pong Beer and will not be recommending it to my brother, currently a junior at IU.
I appreciate the effort by the Pong Beer company, and they have slick website with simple, inebriation-proof navigation. I just know that if, right now, you told me that Team Diablo was hosting a beer pong reunion, and all of those scorned, annihilated teams from 10 years ago were going to get another crack at the Kobe/Shaq of beer pong, I would definitely go for Keystone first, any other number of more familiar light beers next, and reach for Pong Beer last. Why? Tradition. I image I’m not alone in this, and certainly the early comments on this Reddit thread seem to back me up.
For Pong Beer to succeed, it will have to undercut the Keystones of the beer world from a price perspective and get on the shelves of convenience marts on college campuses, because let’s be honest: price and convenience are by far the two most importance factors for college students choosing what to purchase. If they can do this, and keep prices low, perhaps they can start to build their own tradition from the ground floor.
Apparently a 30-pack of Pong Beer is around $18, which seems quite high in comparison to other brands. And though you get two ping pong balls included, I can’t imagine that will be a tremendously huge selling point, except to people titillated by the novelty of it.
But they better be in it to win it for the long haul, because beer pong is a tradition passed down from parents to kids, older siblings to younger siblings, upperclassmen to underclassmen, and so on. Right now, I imagine that few of the people doing the passing down will do so with this unfamiliar, calculated, fancy-looking, meant-to-be-a-perfect-fit new beer that just seems a little too perfect for a game that is so wonderful and beloved because it is decidedly imperfect, unfancy, and familiar.
Pong Beer will have to a find a way to be “passed up” rather passed down, and by that I do not mean passed over but rather made the optimal choice because of price, which could then slowly lead to inroads being made as more and more people play with the newest, cheapest beer. Otherwise the cheaper and more traditional beers will continue to win out, and Pong Beer will quickly become a thing of the past.
But unlike Team Diablo, it won’t have any legendary moments to hold onto that make it an immortal part of the fabric of beer pong’s history (for at least two of us, anyway).