The world of professional cornholes has been rocked by a possible cheating scandal that erupted a few months ago at the 2022 American Cornhole League World Championship.
During the event, which took place in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Team No. 1 Mark Richards and Philip Lopez were accused by a competitor of using bags that didn’t conform to the code, which is now leading fans to say, ” The dirty underside is exposed.’
Devon Harbaugh, the rival who filed the complaint, said he believed at the time the team may have been using underweight bags and against the regulations.
“I thought the bags were too flimsy,” said Harbaugh, speaking to the Wall Street Journal.
Philip Lopez was one of the two team members accused by Devon Harbaugh of having undersized pockets that didn’t comply with regulations
Mark Richards is the other half of the No. 1 team who were accused of having bags that didn’t meet ACL regulations during August’s championship
While the situation may seem light-hearted, according to members of the Cornhole community, the incident is no laughing matter.
The price at stake for the game was $15,000.
During the game, officials were called to inspect the bags and actually found that the resin and cloth bags did not meet regulations.
The condition of the bags was so evident that Mark Pryor, a commentator on the game, even commented on the bags himself.
“You’re too small,” Pryor said. “It’s going to create drama.”
The situation quickly escalated, however, when officers then approached Harbaugh and his teammate’s bags for a similar inspection.
Devon Harbaugh said he thought the bags used by his opponents were “too flimsy”.
It turned out that Harbaugh and his partner’s bags also didn’t conform to the rules.
Bags used during play must be six inches by six inches and weigh 16 ounces, according to the American Cornhole League.
The incident, now dubbed “BagGate,” has sparked serious conversation among the sport’s top players and observers.
“I find it funny that anyone thought that Cornhole would always be friendships and rose petals,” wrote one person on the Addicted to Cornhole Facebook group.
Play resumed after a one-hour delay, and officers inspecting the bags finally ruled that no violations had been intentional.
Trey Ryder, a spokesman for the American Cornhole League, told the Wall Street Journal that fraud was “possible” but that they believe the bag regulation rules were not intentionally broken.
“Honestly, it could be anything,” Harbaugh said when asked why his team’s bags didn’t follow the rules. ‘Definitely unintentional.’
“I don’t know how they got illegal size. We didn’t cook the sacks,” Lopez agreed.
Although the bags unintentionally break the rules, the league still needed to improve its protocols and inspections.
“We had to be really tough to make sure all of these bags were up to spec,” Ryder said. “We had to invest more internally in our compliance.
The problem has become more serious and some players are taking drastic measures to gain the upper hand.
A cornhole pro spoke to The Wall Street Journal and told them that people are getting creative when it comes to how they handle their bags.
“You have the average players trying everything to get the bag to do different things,” Nate Voyer said.
The professional cornhole player told the news outlet he knows a player who tries to flatten his pocket by running over it.
Others, he says, wash their bags in vinegar or boil them to make them smoother.
Players take the game very seriously as there is a lot of money at stake.
Some players are reportedly raking in as much as $250,000 per year through various revenue streams on and related to the game.
Cornhole has become a lucrative sport, with some players raking in as much as $250,000 a year through competitions and sponsorships
Since the August incident, Ryder said the ACL has increased its testing and inspections and plans to continue with the 2023 season.
“We think we’re taking a big step,” adds Mr. Ryder.
One professional cornhole player suggested that with the sport’s rising popularity, it might be time to take it even further.
“I think like any other sport, we have to have a referee,” said Jay Corley, a Virginia player.
The scandal in the cornhole world comes amid another major scandal in a niche sport.
Two men were recently accused of stuffing five walleye with lead weights and fish fillets during a lucrative fishing tournament on Lake Erie.
Jacob Runyan, 42, of Broadview Heights, Ohio, and Chase Cominsky, 35, of Hermitage, Pennsylvania, recently pleaded not guilty to fraud.
The allegations surfaced on September 30 at the Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament when director Jason Fischer became suspicious because Runyan and Cominsky’s fish were considerably heavier than walleye of this length normally are.
They weighed their top five fish and the pair’s were significantly higher than what a normal walleye achieves
As an angry crowd looked on in Cleveland’s Gordon Park, Fischer cut open the walleye and announced that weights and fish fillets were stuffed inside.
The fish was confiscated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to be used in evidence.
Runyan and Cominsky were charged earlier this month with fraud, attempted grand larceny, possession of criminal tools and misdemeanor possession of wild animals.
The pair originally won the tournament but were replaced by Steve Hendricks after the weights were found. The prize for first place in the tournament was around $28,000.
The pair (pictured) originally won the tournament but were replaced by Steve Hendricks after the weights were found
“I just hope they get it for everything they can, for what they’ve done,” Hendricks said.
He added that for most anglers “what they love to do” is not in it for the money.
“You’re out there trying to do a great job and it’s just unfortunate that a chosen few can come in and ruin it all for you. So I hope [Cominsky and Runyan] Get the maximum out,” he told CNN earlier this month.
The duo allegedly stuffed the items down the fish’s throats to increase their weight and boost their standing in the tournament.
Alongside the lead weights were slices of other fish fillets, pieces of which had been stuffed into the body of the catch to add even more weight.