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Are You Ready for Some Cornhole?

On Friday, October 12, 2007, teams of RC and EC students will compete on Spangler Lawn for the glory of being crowned as the Centennial “Cornhole Classic” champions. Participating teams will be raising funds to support research into treatments and cures for Fanconi Anemia and Pompe’s Disease, childhood genetic disorders which have touched families from our HBS Community.

“Cornhole” (also called bags or baggo) has swept through the interior of the USA and now, courtesy of the Midwest Student Association and corporate sponsor Nationwide, makes its way to HBS for the annual “Cornhole Classic” charity fundraiser tournament and TGIF.

The game of cornhole gets its name from the signature one-pound bag — traditionally filled with corn kernels — that is tossed underhand at a slanted board with a grapefruit-sized hole cut into the middle of it. Teams of two compete from each RC and EC section (up to three teams per section) in a massive double-elimination tournament. Last year’s champions from Old Section C will be out in full force to defend their title.

“Although HBS is very international, many people here don’t get to experience the US outside of Cambridge, so it was great to have people experience a part of the Midwest at last year’s Cornhole Classic,” said Matt Rhenish (OC). “Of course, I enjoyed the event because we won – actually, we crushed the competition. We just hope our months and months of blood, sweat, and tears from training pay off this year as we dominate the RCs and go down in HBS’ history.”

Most cornhole afficianados argue that the game is incomplete without a cold beverage in hand, partly because of the social atmosphere of the event and partly because of the counterweight afforded to balance the player’s toss. Corporate sponsor Nationwide will make sure that there are plenty of snacks and beverages for both the players and spectators.

Cornhole is played two-on-two, with each side throwing four bags each “inning.” Opposing players alternate tossing bags. Players score three points each time they toss a bag into the round hole cut into the slanted board 27 feet away. If a shot lands on the board and remains at the end of the inning, the team scores one point; however, opponents can knock the other team’s bags off the board to cancel points. In the Cornhole Classic tournament, the first team to11 points wins the match and advances to the next round.

The game originated in Cincinnati, Ohio more than 50 years ago as a summertime distraction, but has become a craze in the last ten years at bars, tailgates and picnics throughout the Midwest, from Chicago to Minneapolis to St. Louis to Detroit.

“As the Cornhole Classic has become a staple of the HBS scene, the MSA became keen on expanding the charity element of the event in order to raise funds and awareness of two childhood genetic disorders that have touched the lives of members of our HBS Community,” said Sid D’Souza, Co-president of the Midwest Student Association.

Entry fees from this year’s tournament will go towards supporting research into treatments and cures for Fanconi Anemia and Pompe’s Disease. Fanconi Anemia is a genetic disease that is characterized by increased incidence of solid tumors and leukemias, bone marrow failure and skeletal anomalies. Cornhole Classic founder Tim Heis (MBA 2007) identified this cause as a charity partner for the tournament after his niece was diagnosed with the disorder while he was in school. This year, funds will also go to support research of Pompe’s Disease, a rare genetic disorder caused by an enzyme deficiency that causes progressive muscle weakness throughout the body and affects various body tissues, particularly in the heart, skeletal muscles, liver and nervous system. Students rallied to incorporate this cause as a charity partner after the daughter of Professor Ananth Raman (TOM Unit) was diagnosed with the disease.

Students interested in participating should form teams and contact the official Midwest Student Association “Cornhole Champs” in their sections to sign up. Interested teams can also contact Tournament Coordinator Sid D’Souza (OI) at sdsouza@mba2008.hbs.edu with questions.

October 9, 2007
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