‘BagGate’: Cornhole Controversy After Top Players Accused Of Cheating

‘BagGate’: Cornhole Controversy After Top Players Accused Of Cheating

A roiling controversy has sprung out in the world of professional cornhole, the game in which players toss bags of resin beads into a hole in slanted boards.

The No.1 ranked doubles team at the 2022 American Cornhole League World Championships in August was accused of cheating in a scenario now referred to as BagGate.

“They’re too small,” color commentator Mark Pryor pointed out when officials inspected the bags of Mark Richards and Philip Lopez. “That’s going to create some drama.”

But then Richards and Lopez asked officials at the event to check their opponents’ bags. They were not proper either.

The American Cornhole League, with roughly 155,000 members, has a contract with ESPN and featured 22,000 events this year, with top players able to make $250,000 per year.

Rules stipulate that the cornhole bag — six by six inches when flat, weighing 16 ounces —  that rests on the board without passing through the hole is awarded one point; a bag thrown through the hole or knocked through by another bag garners three points. The winner is the first player or team to score 21 points.

Since a bag that is thinner and less hefty could be easier to throw through the holes, various techniques and tools have been utilized to alter the resin beads, including vinegar-washing , sandpaper, or hammers. Nate Voyer, a cornhole professional, told The Wall Street Journal that he knew someone who covered his bag with plywood, then drove his car over it.

“All it takes is one bad apple,” he lamented.

On the Addicted to Cornhole Facebook page, one commenter wrote after the alleged scandal occurred, “I think it’s funny that anyone believed it would be all friendships and rose petals forever in cornhole.”

“Now the dirty underbelly is being exposed,” the commenter added.

After the competitors’ bags were examined at the August event, officials at the world championships said that no intentional flouting of the rules had occurred.

“We’ve really had to crack down to make sure that all these bags are to spec,” said ACL spokesman Trey Ryder, acknowledging the ACL will implement random bag checks at tournaments. “Internally we’ve had to invest more into our compliance. … We believe we are taking a major step,” Mr. Ryder adds.

Cornhole professional Jay Corley told the Journal, “I think we’re going to have to go to having a referee just like any other sport.”

Despite the controversy, Voyer, a former school administrator, enthused, “Now I get money to play a backyard game. Are you kidding me?”

America