When I blew out my knee in January, I thought my days of college competition were over. All my dreams of an IM basketball, mini-soccer or another softball championship were down the tubes. My friends told me I should come watch and cheer them on, but that’s like being invited to Thanksgiving dinner and instead of eating, you’re tortured by your family’s life updates while your stomach acid eats away at you. No thanks.

J. Brady McCollough
Jeff Phillips
Ramble on

Luckily, my competitive fire was revived when I was informed of the greatest thing to happen to Mondays since Monday Night Football: Beer pong at Touchdown’s. My favorite part about tailgating finally found a home during the offseason. It is the great equalizer amongst men (and women, who have been doing quite well). No matter how big or how small, how athletically gifted or inept the players are, they can still be competitive. For me, the game combines all of my skills (drinking beer and throwing ping pong balls into cups) into one perfect game.

Everyone has their own house rules, and in case you are curious, I will briefly break down those at Touchdown’s. If you and your partner both make the ball in different cups, you get them back, and those two cups are removed. If you make them in the same cup, then three cups are removed, but you don’t get the balls back. You re-rack cups when six, four and two cups remain.

Inside, the setup is incredible. It is a 32-team, single-elimination tournament, played on the main floor on eight tables, with a T-shirt going to the quickest finished game and a gift certificate to Jimmy’s Sgt. Pepper’s to the winner. All this goes on with tailgate music blaring (meaning ample amounts of AC/DC and Guns ‘N Roses). Even if beer pong isn’t your thing, you can still have fun downstairs, where another tailgate favorite, flip-cup, takes over for the losers of beer pong.

In the first week, we crashed and burned in the second round – it wasn’t pretty. But the week after our shocking exit, we came back with a vengeance.

We began with my partner, Andy, again making about 90 percent of the cups in the first two rounds, and with me crying about how the cups were too stiff, small and red. By the next round, though, we were on. Andy no longer needed to carry me, so I took the brace off his back and began making cups. We had so much momentum that our easiest matches were our final two.

Sadly, those two matches were against our friends. I would have been happy just to have one of us win, but I was even happier that we won. I repaid Andy by actually making the cups at the beginning, and he nailed the final ones. This was teamwork in the truest sense of the word. I wish I could go back and rewrite those high school athletics essays with this in mind.

With the victory, I have changed my resume and sent updates to the graduate schools I’ve applied to. The congratulatory letters are no doubt currently en route to my house. I’m petitioning the IM department to print “2002-03 Beer pong champions” T-shirts. If the IM department comes through, my family will need to cut it off my body before I’m buried with it.

Surprisingly, the University has yet to ask us to speak at graduation. Still, we have the responsibility of being marked men. Every game we play, people want to take down the champs. I used to wonder why NBA players never go play street ball in the summer, but now I know. There is no incentive to win other than to save face. It’s not like I’m going to stop playing outside of the tournament, but I’m sick of hearing things like, “We beat the champs!” and “You only won because (fill in the blank).”

I’m not too concerned though. After two weeks of competing, we have our ring, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. I expect to form a Duke-like dynasty and by the time you finish reading this, I am confident that we have pocketed our second consecutive championship.

– Jeff Phillips would like to thank Colin Fowler for making all of this possible. Jeff can be reached at jpphilli@umich.edu.

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