"Redneck Sports" . . . for Charity | Bleader

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Redneck Sports" . . . for Charity

Posted By on 07.29.10 at 03:43 PM

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Hey, have you ever heard of “redneck” sports? If not, don’t feel bad: life has become an endless blizzard of memes, and you can’t stop and examine every snowflake. I had never heard of them until the other day, when an e-mail arrived from a volunteer with the local chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society asking if I might be interested in covering their junior board's Redneck Olympics fund-raiser. “There will be beer pong, flip cup, a best mullet contest, a watermelon seed spitting contest, a shopping cart race, draft beer, and good tunes,” he wrote.

As someone who was raised around "rednecks," and who possibly has a few in the family blood line (stereotypes can be fluid), this agenda strikes me as being way off-base; the amusements are very questionable in their redneckness. The only people I've ever known to enjoy flip cup and draft beer were frat boys. And a few of my law school classmates in New York were wealthy, avid beer pong fans. They did not have outhouses—they lived in penthouses. Maybe they were rednecks inside?

I called the MS Society. "We feel it's a fun way to get together and compete in some fun activities and events with a silly theme to raise money for MS," said Laura Canonaco, vice-president of marketing and community engagement. The secret, it seems, is in the branding. "Redneck Olympics is just funny. We're kind of counting on someone reading about it and going, 'this sounds unusual, this sounds funny, this sounds fun.'"

It's an "Olympics" because there are prizes, she added.

It turns out Redneck Olympics are not entirely the invention of the MS Society, though. A Google search suggests that redneck sports have been with us for a while now, in various iterations. East Dublin, Georgia, hosts an annual Summer Redneck Games; their website/“MUD HOLE ON THE WEB!” lists watermelon seed-spitting but also an armpit serenade, “Bobbin’ for Pigs Feet,” and a "Mudpit Belly Flop." Addicting Games, Mindjolt, and other websites offer an electronic Redneck Olympics with a pumpkin shoot and hog toss. And in the retail sphere, Redneck Dixie and the Redneck Gift Store sell “redneck” sporting gear.

So there you have it: redneck sports, everybody's doing it—including the do-gooders. Speaking of which, if you want to attend the MS Society’s fund-raiser, it’s Saturday, July 31, from 1 to 5 PM at Weeds (1555 N. Dayton). It's $30 at the door, and a portion of the proceeds goes to the society.

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