• Morgan Fielder

Everything You Need to Know About Cornhole in the Olympics: Europe is the Key

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

Cornhole Olympian!?! Just what the world has been waiting for.




Do you have the dream of seeing cornhole at the Olympics? Why not!


While cornhole is not as glamorous as synchronized swimming, stylish as ping pong, or rad as surfing, it’s rapidly growing in the USA, Canada, and Europe and can be played by anyone with very little equipment or training costs.


Do we really need to watch yet another 21 year old Russian with testosterone/steroid enhanced 6 pack abs winning some boring race or throwing a stick? Snooze. They all dope anyways…



What actually makes a good Olympics?


Cornhole has the potential to secure great sponsors to fund the athletes, is easy to broadcast for TV and online viewership, and exceptionally fun to watch “alt-athletes” of all body shapes and sizes, male or female, young or old take the championship.


To be considered for involvement in the Olympics, 75 countries have to widely play the sport over 4 continents.




Whoa.


Have you ever tried to tell a story to someone that doesn’t speak English? Perhaps order something while on vacation overseas? Something like regular coffee that has cream in it, and you think you really nailed it with your pseudo translation. Your face drops when the server comes back with an espresso with a sugar packet bigger than the actual coffee and a cute tiny spoon. Smiling politely you try to say thanks in ______ blank language and cry a little on the inside because you want a real cup of coffee, not this paltry little shot of supertest espresso with no cream. What’s up with the tiny spoons for a half swallow of coffee anyways? So many tiny dishes. Such different culture!




Proving that 75 different countries like to play cornhole is a coordination nightmare! 75 different cultures must connect and communicate to spread what is essentially an “American” game. Massive cultural capital is required to vault it to the Olympic level.


It seems insurmountable. A pipedream for us cornhole lovers. The USA definitely has amazing players, but our strength is also our weakness. We are only one nation despite our competitiveness.


So on the Cornhole-Makes-the-Olympics checklist : 1 nation (USA), 1 continent (North America). That’s a pretty short list even if we have people from all 50 states competing. What about the other 74 nations and other 3 continents?


Getting cornhole into the Olympics just can’t be done in the Western hemisphere. Why?


It’s too vast and we’re too disconnected from each other.


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the governing body and marketing machine of the Olympics and recognizes 206 countries. About 40% of the nations need to have documented participation in the sport to be considered as valid for an Olympic bid.


Here’s the breakdown of nations by continent:


Africa 54.

South America 12

Oceania/Australia 14

North America 23

Asia: 51

Europe 44

Antartica is a bust. And that’s all 7 continents.


We need 4 of them and it makes sense to target our efforts on Europe.Like a D-Day style all out frontal cornhole love assault. Promotion, sponsors, marketing, travel, support, streaming events, advertisers, TV, equipment, all of it.


Changing anything as big as the Olympics isn’t possible without shifting culture itself. Cultural practices and activities like art, media, sports, etc. are the “big tent of arts and culture” and we must ignite a “cornhole wave” that travels across the globe and picks up momentum.


If the cornhole wave sweeps Europe and a majority of European countries shift the sporting culture to include cornhole, then half of the IOC requirement will be met.


Europe is simply the best choice to start the Cornhole Wave and Cornhole Europa is all in.


With good internet connections, relatively high wealth (so that normal folks can stream cornhole from their personal phones to build momentum and documentation of sport participation), and good transportation infrastructure to allow high level competition and easy travel, Europe is PRIME to influence the rest of the world. Most European nations are smaller than U.S. States! America invented the sport (probably), but Europe must nurture and grow it to the next level by creating a tidal wave of cultural capital to bring it to the Olympics.


If you started in Western Germany driving a car, you can hit France, Belgium, and the Netherlands in one easy afternoon of driving on the autobahn.



Once the wave picks up speed it can spread easily within Europe and then to Asia, and beyond. There are 44 independent countries within Europe, in a landmass smaller than the USA. Many people tend to live in villages with green spaces and government funded community centers. Urbanites have access to the myriad of city parks and green spaces Europe is known to embody in their culture.


And most importantly, hobbies and past times are sacred. This might be the biggest cultural difference from the USA. Free time.

Ask a European, “What do you do?” and you are more likely to hear “play football with my buddies”, “love photography”, “chase my kids” or “grow my own tomatoes” than learn what industry they work within or job they have.


Cornhole-Makes-the-Olympics checklist : 34 nations (USA + 75% of Europe), 2 continents (North America, Europe).


If you want to learn more about existing cornhole organizations in Europe check out this directory of clubs within Europe, the interactive map of clubs, or the Cornhole Europa Tour.





Pros and Cons of Considering Alternatives to Europe:


Antartica would be such an amazing destination to play cornhole on the ice with penguins.


Africa is the worst choice. When my friend who works in international affairs wants to travel to Africa to attend a meeting these things have to happen: 1. shots, lots of vaccine shots (not the Fireball kind of shots), 2. book expensive hotels that are “secure” 3. use bottled water, even for brushing teeth.

While exciting, colorful, and interesting, most of Africa has poor transportation infrastructure and poor internal and external security making it very difficult for players to travel and ensure events run smoothly and without corruption. Maps are deceiving. The landmass of Africa is bigger than the United States, Russia, and China put together!


It may have the highest number of countries, but there are many obstacles to a cornhole wave washing over the Continent.


Pros: 54 nations.

Cons: everything else.


Cornhole-Makes-the-Olympics checklist : 34 nations (USA + 75% of Europe), 2 continents (North America, Europe).


Asia has been central to hosting the Olympics recently with 2018, 2020, and 2022 held or soon to be held in Asia. With such a huge population, exceptional connectivity, and proliferation of e-businesses and personal devices it has great potential.


However, there is a lot of competition and starting a trend in Asia might be like trying to fight a landwar in Asia: difficult, complicated, and probably best left to the locals.

Unlike Europe, physical space in most of Asia is at a premium. Urbanization and high rise apartments make it difficult to find venues indoor and outdoor to play. Asia is not known for it’s love of lawn and creative solutions will arise organically once the European Cornhole Tidal wave sweeps East.


To make room for the cornhole wave currently, targeting places like Japan and South Korea make sense. Their cultures already place high value on Olympic sports with a long history of competing in the Games. Manufacturing infrastructure is well established to create the necessary local equipment.


Pros: 51 Nations, good manufacturing, great connectivity for streaming events.

Cons: Physical space to play, long distances for international travel and expensive flights so realistically 25% of nations will likely participate.


Cornhole-makes-the-olympics checklist : 47 (34 European+13 Asian) nations (USA + 75% of Europe + 25% of Asia), 3 continents (North America, Europe, Asia).


South America vs Oceania/Australia


Where to target the final 4th Continent to make the Cornhole Olympics dream a reality? If Africa and Antartica are out, North America, Europe, and Asia are in. That leaves one more continent where cornhole must be played. Australia and Oceania definitely have the cultural vibe where cornhole is a natural fit. Beaches, laid-back people, long warm nights, but it’s so far and expensive to travel overseas to play internationally.


South America also has a great vibe and many athletes participating in the Olympics for many decades. My gut says to look first towards South America as a natural competitor for North America due to travel considerations but it’s hard to tell.


Pros: Great cultural vibe for cornhole to catch on and be adopted locally.

Cons: Difficult and expensive logistics. Limited connectivity and disposable income for streaming events.


Likely these will be the last places where the Cornhole wave hits, so a conservative estimate would be a strong showing from Olympic regulars Australia and New Zealand and 25% of South America.


Cornhole-makes-the-olympics checklist : 52 (34 Europe+13 Asia + 3 S.A. + 2 Oceania) nations (USA + 75% of Europe + 25% of Asia +25% Oceania/S.A.), 5 continents (North America, Europe, Asia, South America/Oceania).


North America is already onboard.

The USA and Canada are onboard. With 23 nations and the existing cornhole culture in the USA, it’s conservative to expect 75% of North American nations to chase the cornhole wave. That’s 17 more participating nations.


That would bring our total to: 52+17=69!


What a great number. The final six nations will be frantically paddling their surfboard towards the tail end of the cornhole wave, trying to catch up and play.


We need 75 countries to participate.

Europe = 44 countries (more than half of the requirement) in the same amount of space as the USA but it sports exceptional rail lines, highways, and cheap flight carriers like Ryanair and Easyjet that make international play simple and cheap. The culture values hobbies and past times, and people have free time and disposable income.


free time is serious business in europe


Additionally, the opportunities to bring to market the equipment production and sales, event management and sponsorships can be really attractive to European businesses and athletes alike. As a bonus, Europeans have a long history of coordination and aren’t so baffled by international standards as the western hemisphere. English is the language spoken in business and diplomacy, the 27 trading countries in the EU can sell cornhole products and services without tariffs or obstructions.


The math is simple. Promote and build cornhole in Europe and you will have more than half of the number of nations needed to make a bid for the Olympics.



There are three things that really need to happen in order to make this dream a reality and ignite the Cornhole Wave to sweep Europe.


1: Grassroots Play To Create Culture Change

People love sports. They talk about sports, pay money to watch sports, dress up their favorite players, and advertisers know this. More people pay attention to sports than museums. So yes, sports are an important part of culture.


It’s an integral part of culture. If you can change culture, you can change attitudes. Cornhole needs to be played in the most number of countries possible, a true love of the sport has to emerge in many different cultures and places organically.


2: Partnerships & Collaboration: Sponsors and Broadcasting

Broadcast. Local players and clubs have to learn how to broadcast online and share, share, share on social media, blogs, and local media stations. Sponsors need to see the potential reach of cornhole fans and players to get onboard and make these international tours a reality. To see some examples of fast and free ways to broadcast any events you might be hosting, check out this link.


Sponsors are annoying but necessary. Before you object and lament of days gone past, think about the financial burden upon the contenders. Players of any sport need benefactors. It’s expensive to put in the time required to practice at a high level, travel costs to get to big competitions, and to own really good standardized equipment. Business interests have to align with the sport in order for it to be a realistic win-win. This isn’t church or yoga where people do it for free or super cheap. Cornhole as a sport has the unique advantage of being the perfect billboard for companies. If game are broadcast, the camera is angled directly on the boards with the sponsors logo framed. Decals are cheap and easy to order and can be placed on boards for sponsorship.


The cornhole community comes with raving fans and supportive organizations. Already organizations like the American Cornhole League have sponsored players to participate in German tournaments and discussions from Cornhole Europa to send German players to the USA. Bags makers are sending “pro” bags to Sweden and Germany. If the community shares and supports each other, the sport will continue to grow.


3: Standardized Rules on Standardized Equipment.

This is a no-brainer. The game can not be different state to state or nation to nation. A standard must be set, and rigorously enforced by a central governing body local to Europe with collaboration with other cornhole organizations around the world.


Local businesses within the EU and the rest of Europe need to build and supply equipment. The opportunity for “ownership” is important to sovereign nations for the cornhole wave to be embraced and then spread.


Currently there are about 10 companies building cornhole equipment at a medium scale. Three tiers of boards should be produced. A beginner level, cheap and easy to ship and carry for recreational play. The second tier should be of higher standardized quality but still moderately priced to act as “tournament” boards. Finally, a “pro” level of boards should be made for serious players and larger regional tournaments. At this level of play, individuals should have their own regulation sized but personal bags. Similar to bowling, where serious players have bags they can play really really well with because of high levels of practice and customization.


What you probably didn’t know is that the excitement and fun of cornhole is already catching on in Europe!


The inclusiveness, community benefits, and connection have emerged in multiple nations competing in cornhole.


Exceptional players are throwing 4 baggers and and engaged clubs are hosting multinational events currently in:

Germany

Sweden

Italy

France

the Netherlands

and more. Even Russia. *Nothing like a Russia vs USA competition, who would want to see that play out at the Olympics?


Already without any sponsors, money prize tournaments, or fancy slippery side/sticky side bags we’ve got players travelling between these countries to compete for fun! Despite the language barriers, they’ve grassroots organized to grow the sport internationally.


The math is simple. Promote and build cornhole in Europe and you will have more than half of the number of nations needed to make an Olympic bid. It’s the the ultimate leveled sport anyone can win, relatable and playable to average person, and able to be sponsored/monetized to create benefactors for the high level players.


America is definitely leading the way (GO USA!) in competitive cornhole, but one nation’s pastime does not equal an Olympic bid however. Europe is the key to a massive wave that could sweep the world.

Cornhole is growing like wildfire in Europe! So if you want to see a sport that is inclusive, fun, and empowering to average people with average body types rise to the level of the Olympics, join and support the excitement of Cornhole Europa.


Check out a full directory of Cornhole Europa Clubs here and learn about exciting travel opportunities and the standings of the Cornhole Europa Cup.


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