The best of Isla Vista’s pong players are heating up as the winter season of the I.V. Beer Pong League gets underway.
The teams are three weeks into their seven-week season, which will culminate in a final competition and a chance to win $500. The winners have the choice of keeping the money for personal use or putting it toward the World Series of Beer Pong in Las Vegas — the biggest organized beer pong tournament in the world, boasting a record payout of $50,000.
According to UCSB alum Bradley Odom, who co-founded the IVBPL with former student Keith Russell, the league started with 56 teams in 2007, has seen as many as 76 teams, and currently has about 60 teams.
Odom said he played pong often with his friends, but was looking for more serious competition and established the league in an effort to organize one of I.V.’s most beloved drinking games.
“At the time, [Beer Pong] was pretty much the only drinking game anybody played [in I.V.],” Odom said.
Teams pride themselves on their originality, with team names such as “Multiple Scoregasms,” “Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like My Pee,” and “Team Hetero Life Partners.” Members are also allowed to don costumes during IVBPL events to show group solidarity and psych out their opponents.
This quarter’s final event will be held at the house of current IVBPL Commissioner and economics graduate student Michael Stromberg, whose garage is decked out with a bar coated in Natural Light boxes, a number of couches, and a beer bong hanging from the ceiling. Last year, there were seven kegs at the event and teams competed for a number of prizes, such as a frozen drink maker and a Nintendo beer pong game.
In the weeks leading up to the final competition, the teams are keeping themselves busy by organizing smaller games to practice their aim.
“Regular season is just about fun and meeting people,” Stromberg said. “The competitions — well, they’re a bit more serious.”
In keeping with IVBPL rules, teams play half of their games at “home” and half of them “away” on another team’s turf.
The home team supplies cups, balls and a regulation-sized table, while the visiting team supplies the 30 rack. Sponsors of the IVBPL, including Precious Slut, Super Cuca’s and SBmenus.com, also help by providing prizes and, more importantly, beer.
IVBPL members are almost exclusively UCSB students, since the average Santa Barbara City College student graduates from the school before they come of age.
“[We’ve had] up to 76 [teams competing],” Odom said. “Usually there are around 60 [pairs]… It stays pretty consistent since everybody who is 21 ends up leaving and you also have more people turning 21.”
According to Sarah Michelle Crout-Hamel, the best part of playing on the IVBPL — besides the “shit talking” — is the chance to make friends.
“We meet tons of people we don’t know… the best part is definitely meeting new people,” she said.