EDITOR'S NOTE: The Super Bowl. The World Series. The NBA Finals. Page 2 has covered those championships over and over and over again, and we'll continue to do so. But we're branching out, too, into the championships of ... oh, say cow-chip throwing and watermelon-seed spitting. Yes, those lesser-known and goofy sports are coming to Page 2 in a series of stories we're calling SportsOFFCenter. First, Kieran Darcy ran up the steps of the Empire State Building. Today, Darren Rovell tells us all about his experience ... flinging dung.
BEAVER, Okla. In my roughly 9,800 days on earth, I had successfully avoided ever picking up cow dung. Yet here I am, sifting through a red wagon full of manure, trying to pick out just the right piece.
A piece that won't break when it's waved in the air.
A piece that's about an inch thick. And just the right width.
A piece that looks like a Frisbee. Or maybe a baseball.
"The key is the wind," explains one veteran chip tosser. "Your chip has to be able to move well through the air."
I just want to avoid anything that looks like what it really is.
It helps that they were dried. But not too dry, because the brittle chips will crumble in your hand. A properly cured chip has a consistency that feels a bit rubbery, but with a smell that's not overly pungent. Still, my stomach roils at the sight of others sorting through the wagon's contents without the protection of biohazard suits.
At the World Cow Chip Throwing Contest, there is no room for the faint of heart.
LEAVE IT TO BEAVER
The land is sparse in the Oklahoma panhandle, but early settlers proved resourceful in spite of the lack of trees, using cow chips to heat their homes and warm their stoves. Apparently with no sticks to throw about to occupy their free time, someone picked up a cow chip and tossed it into a wagon. Soon others got in on dung accuracy craze, though cow chip throwing didn't officially become a sport until 1970, when the world's first sanctioned contest was held.
|ROVELL'S SPRING FLING|
|Darren Rovell brings his A-Game to the World Cow Chip Throwing Championship|
It put tiny Beaver, population 1,570 according to the latest Census results, on the map.
Beaver is now the "Cow Chip Throwing Capital of the World" and Beaveridians derive their self esteem from their performance in the annual tradition.
"We take our turds pretty seriously here," said Brent Lansden, publisher of the local paper, the Beaver Democrat. Lansden calls the paper a "try-weekly," as in they try to publish it weekly.
The Chamber of Commerce pulls out all the stops, preparing months in advance for the celebrated event that comes every third Saturday in April.
A carnival, which fills the air with sounds of organ music and screaming kids, surrounds the fairgrounds. A plane drops ping pong balls on a nearby soccer field, each numbered ball corresponding with a prize. Harkening back to their Wild West roots, the town folks stage a re-enactment of a shootout that ignites cheers from a crowd numbering in the hundreds as the villains are gunned down.