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'Fastest-growing sport in North America': Cornhole play expanding

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Long known as a backyard game, the growth of Cornhole as a sport has been rapid.

There are currently more than 2,500 people playing the sport competitively in Ontario.

Of those 100 of them are here in the north, taking part in American Cornhole League (ACL) events.

A regional ACL tournament was held in the Sault, with dozens in attendance including travellers from Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie, MI.

It is being called "the fastest-growing sport in North America" by many.

Sara Grisdale, the Organizer for the Twin Soo's Cornhole League agrees.

“Last winter we were seeing 6, 8, 10 players coming out,” said Grisdale.

“Now we’re seeing 20, 24 and we just keep spreading the word and every time someone new comes they tell their friends and they bring a new group.”

Geoff Waterman, the regional director for the ACL in the area said much of the rise in popularity is a result of the pandemic.

"It was one of the few sports where you could social distance while playing it with a mask, so ESPN jumped all over it," said Waterman, adding the attendance in Sudbury went up 400 per cent.

Not only is it a fun competition, but its accessible he said.

"You don't have to be extremely athletic," said Waterman.

Spencer Spears from the Sault began playing the sport in a setting many do.

"At the cabin with my buddies, having a couple drinks," he said.

Spears told CTV News getting involved in the competitive events has been a great time.

“Anyone can come out and play,” he said.

“There’s a skill level to mastering it, and getting a good mechanic down, but it’s so welcoming for anyone. Men, women, boys, girls, anyone can play it.”

Waterman's 10-year-old son Gude does not play – but attends many tournaments his parents run.

Despite little interest in the sport, he said the environment is something he loves.

“It’s a good atmosphere because all the people are having a good time and there’s no conflict,” said Gude.

Waterman said "anybody can throw a bag in a hole," but it is more than that when you reach a certain skill level.

“A lot of people who haven’t played it, or are seeing it for the first time don’t realize how technical it can be – a lot like golf.”

At this time there are no professional cornhole players from the north.

Organizers said if the sport’s popularity continues to grow they think that may not be the case for long. 

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