Monday, May 14, 2007

Paper, Scissors, Rock Tournament

Too funny:
Ever since he was crowned regional champion, Matt Corron has been stopped on sidewalks and in bars by folks who want a crack at beating him. Last week, a stranger had to pay for Corron's breakfast after challenging him -- and losing -- at the Boulevard Diner in Worcester.

Corron rarely loses at Rock, Paper, Scissors, and for his talent he's on his way to Las Vegas this weekend for a shot at $50,000 and a national title.

Wait -- there's a national title for that? And money? For that innocuous childhood game and conflict resolution method most often used to decide who gets the last Creamsicle?

Believe it. The two-day 2007 USA Rock Paper Scissors Tournament Finals will bring together more than 300 regional finalists from across the nation, including about two dozen from New England. Each won a free contest at a neighborhood bar or restaurant, then triumphed again at a competition among several bars in their area to earn a berth for the ultimate prize.

"I take it very seriously," said Corron, 23, a history-political science major at Worcester State College. "If I win, that's a nice little paycheck."

The two-year-old USARPS League was founded by co-commissioner Matti Leshem, a 44-year-old Hollywood producer who never plays a round for less than $100 a shoot.

A lifelong devotee who discovered that there was a professional Canadian league, Leshem decided to start one here. He's written a set of rules, trained referees, and has unsuccessfully petitioned the International Olympic Committee to make it one of their events. At this weekend's event at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, a paramedic will be on standby because wrist and shoulder injuries often occur, Leshem said. ESPN is expected to air footage of the competition this summer.

All this silliness has a payout, however.
Leshem's league is blossoming largely because of its main sponsor, Bud Light, which is the engine behind the national tournament. The beer's parent company, Anheuser-Busch, last year hit upon the league as it sought unusual new marketing opportunities. Beer distributors organized the tournaments that produced the regional finalists, and Anheuser-Busch puts up the prize money and picks up the tab for each finalist and a guest to fly to Las Vegas and stay for three days.

This is the second year for the national tournament. In addition to the $50,000 first prize, the runner-up gets $5,000. Plus, two finalists will be chosen at random for a 500-shoot contest for a free car. All told, the promotion is costing the company at least $400,000.

"We asked ourselves, 'What do we want to do to get the attention of young contemporary adults?' and we came up with this," said Rick Leininger, Bud Light brand director. "Some people get really serious about it but they have a lot of fun at it, too. Some people dress up in costumes as scissors and rocks. A lot of people bring strategy."
Hat tip: Ace.