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February 26, 2013 - Brandon Marx

All in the Head

And one more look at the final shot, he slows his breathing, and pushes the ball away. He’s done it!! He’s sunk the ball, for his 75th PGA tour victory!! Tiger Woods is the greatest player in the history of the game!

Wait, what the hell? Who gives a shit about Golf?! Not me, that’s for sure. And before any Golf fans jump on my ass about that statement, let me get to the point of this article. Despite the controversial titillations of his career, Tiger Woods is often considered to be the best player ever. Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Pele. Names synonymous with each of their respected sports as the greatest. So how does one define the greatest players of these sports? Clearly all had the skill, drive, and heart to be the best, but what was it that sets them apart from the rest of the players? In a game where the only pressure we place on our bodies is primarily our knees and livers, I believe this saying holds the most truth:

“When you reach that elite level, 90 percent is mental and 10 percent is physical. You are competing against yourself. Not against the other athlete”.

Although Dick Fosbury was originally quoted with saying this, many interpretations of the quote are utilized throughout sports to this day. So what I’d like the talk about is the level of skill at which all elite players are defined by, and the mental portion of this game that makes you truly the greatest to ever play.

In almost all professional sports, the level of skill a person plays at is based on categories: professional, semi-professional, amateur, etc. In our sport, most of this is relayed by trash talk such as “garbage-shooting”, “mismake queen”, or just regular slanderous “pussy-bitch” being tossed around. I’ll get into distractions later. Other players with a higher level of play are defined by “shooting disgusting”, or “nasty”, or as A,B, or C players. So, how do we define beer pong players on a professional skill level? I find the solution to be rather easy.

In the world of beer pong, there are hundreds of shot types, ranging from bouncing to clicking your heels three times, banging the Wicked Witch, then shooting. While none of these are for everyone, and some are quite ugly to watch, there has to be a way to identify who are the professionals, semi-professionals, and amateurs. Here’s my take on it. Professionals can simply be defined as a player that has won a Major (which currently is only the WSOBP in my opinion), or any of the Mid-Major events hosted ($5K or higher).

Semi-professionals could be defined by their Satellite victories, or events below Mid-Majors (1K and up). Lastly, amateurs could be defined as your local weekly winners, that haven’t quite made it up to the level of winning a Satellite event. Now, I know most of you, probably the players I just defined as semi-professional, will disagree with this method of basing skill level. But hear me out on the rest of this. Do I think this is the only way to define the best? Absolutely not. There is another aspect that continues to separate the elite, and also another way to define why these players should be considered professionals, and why you are still just a rising star.

In a way, defining a player’s level based off of skill could be extremely difficult, aside from the way I just described above. In the world of beer pong, it could quickly become anyone’s day just based off of how they are shooting. Be it bogeys, plinking cups, or just shooting abnormally well as a player is a pretty common occurrence for the sport. And while most players may take these wins and use them to make a case for being one of the best, but I would hold back on that. My reasoning is simple. Anyone can beat anyone in this game, that’s some of the beauty, and the drive, that keeps the backbone of this community alive. If there was a clear victor every tournament, the sport would die in an instant, just like any other sport.

I believe the biggest difference between the elite players, or the professionals, and the semi-professionals is the mental capacity. And by that, I mean the level of consistency at which a professional should play. That all falls into the mental state of a player. Most elite players will rarely get shaken by any form of trash talk, distraction, or three-cup rebuttal. Some of them may even thrive off of the hatred, the competition, or skill presented to them. And that is ultimately what separates the professionals from the semi-professionals. The ability to just shut everything out, from the last two misses, to the last cup. Traveling to tournament after tournament, and smashing through brackets.

This will once again, frustrate those whom I’ve now listed as just semi-pro players. However, I will make a point here to say that beer pong has one huge difference from any other sport. Seeing as there is no true defining point in this wonderful game, all levels of skill get to play against each other, and continue to make a name for themselves. Be it you’re already at the top tier, or a rising future champion, there is always the next game that can make a difference in how everyone perceives you as a player. There is no such thing as rest, not in Vegas, not anywhere. While you rest, another semi-pro is making their way up to the top.

– Lehman

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