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Professional cornhole shocked by 'BagGate' cheating scandal

Jayden Collins

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| Last updated 

Professional cornhole shocked by 'BagGate' cheating scandal

As cheating scandals have plagued sports such as chess and fishing in recent months, professional cornhole is no different.

Dubbed ‘BagGate’, the controversy unfolded at the 2022 American Cornhole League (ACL) World Championships back in August.

There was $15,000 (AU$23,900, £13,400) on the line with players tossing a bag of resin beads into a hole cut into slanted boards about eight metres (27ft) away.

The Wall Street Journal reports that one of the players named Devon Harbaugh lodged a complaint against rivals Mark Richards and Philip Lopez.

He claimed the ‘bags were too thin’.

A hefty accusation, but one that would need to be investigated.

The cornhole world was watching live on ESPN at the time - ESPN really broadcasts everything don’t they?

As officials inspected the bags, it became clearer to those watching at home that the bags were indeed too thin.

Colour commentator Mark Pryor exclaimed: “They’re too small.

“That’s going to create some drama.”

What happened to drama-free fun in these niche sports?

Well, the drama wasn’t even over as Lopez and Richards asked officials to check their opponents’ bags too - which weren’t compliant, either.

The cornhole bags must be six by six inches according to ACL regulations and weigh 16 ounces.

After an hour delay, officials decided that the ‘cheating’ wasn’t intentional and that neither player had meant to play with smaller bags.

However, as The Wall Street Journal reports, players are boiling their bags or washing them to try to make them more slick.

While others are bringing out the sandpaper (gasp), hammers, and rubber mallets.

Cornhole may seem like the easy-going, run-of-the-mill sport, but with 155,000 members in the ACL and 22,000 events a year, players can make up to $250,000 (AU$397,000, £224,000) a year.

So undoubtedly people are trying to get that extra edge for that extra cash.

The ACL are making shifts and movements to improve the sport, such as bag testing.

However, one commentator wrote on the Addicted to Cornhole Facebook page: “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.”

ACL commissioner Stacey Moore said: "Consistent with the original ruling in August and after extensive review by the ACL, it was determined there was no illegal use of bags at the 2022 ACL World Championships."

Adding: "There is an established process once that challenge has been invoked to test the bags in questions.

"Upon completion, both the league and all players involved agreed there were no illegal bags.

"As the ACL continues to rapidly grow, we will continue to evaluate the process to ensure even and fair play at all times."

Featured Image Credit: American Cornhole League/YouTube. WoodysPhotos / Alamy.

Topics: US Sports

Jayden Collins
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