Today’s foray into Cosby Sweaters approved excellence was inspired by the holiday weekend.  Today we focus on insuring you live the kind of summer lifestyle every Cosby Sweaters reader dreams of.

Barbecues always dominate 4th of July weekend.  Nothing better celebrates freedom from British rule like working on your farmer tan with a beer in hand and meat on the grill.  Of course once you get your friends and family into a single grassy space you need something for them to do other than second guess your charcoal lighting technique.  That’s where yard sports come in.   We’ve all experienced yard sports, the game/sport hybrids that include just enough athletic activity to get the juices flowing while still being something everyone regardless of gender or athletic ability can enjoy.   To help insure you get the most fun you can out of the rest of your summer we proudly continue our Today’s Best series with a ranking of the best yard sports.


Today’s Best: The Best Yard Sports

Let us begin by giving some criteria for assessing yard sports.  There are essentially five questions to ask when determining if something is a yard sport, and if so how viable a yard sport it is.

  • Can it be played in a normal sized yard? While yard sports can be played at the park or anywhere else with grass they are meant for backyard barbecues and that means they have to fit into the back yard.  You can’t count on your one rich friend finally sacking up and hosting an event so the ideal yard sport better be something that fits in a normal suburban yard.
  • Does athleticism matter? It better not.  Yard sports need to be accessible to everyone.  Nothing says buzz kill like inviting the ladies in attendance to join in a game of basketball where they’ll be uncomfortable, guaranteed of losing, and likely elbowed by a drunken idiot.
  • Can you get all the equipment for under $50? Your yard sports equipment is likely spending 363 days of the year in the garage waiting hopefully for a long weekend so the last thing you want to do is break the bank picking it up.
  • Is there a US professional league for it? A close cousin of the athleticism rule but any sport with a legit professional league is too intense for yard sports.  This is what rules soccer and bull riding out.
  • Can you play it while holding a drink? The goal of yard sports is to enhance the summer barbecue experience not to diminish it.  Odds are you’re already planning to use alcohol to enhance the barbecue experience so the yard sport can’t mean dropping the beers or you’re in a zero sum game.

With those criteria established let’s take a look at the ranking of available yard sports with our top-5:

1. Cornhole – We get it, the name is funny.  Now move past it.  Cornhole has gone from a little known diversion in the Midwest to the fastest growing yard sport around.  The easy scoring system, teamwork and approachability of tossing bean bags makes cornhole a winner.  It does require moving some fairly large stuff around to set up but once you get it into the yard you’re home free.  The only real risk cornhole faces is getting so popular it actually becomes too competitive for the yard.  And if you thought the name was funny on its own try reading the title of this organization without busting up.


2. Kan Jam – There’s a good chance that unless you live in Buffalo you’ve never head of Kan Jam and that’s your loss.  The basic idea involves throwing a Frisbee at a garbage can with a hole in the side of it, scoring points if you get the disc in the slot, hit the can with it, or your teammate knocks the disc into the can.  Certainly the newest player on the yard sports scene, Kan Jam is proof that there are still good ideas out there.  Kan Jam perfectly mixes ease of play (anyone can throw a Frisbee), ability to even the odds with team selection, flexible setup, low cost, and if you can’t throw a Frisbee with a beer in your hand you should probably just stay home.  It’s still not widely available in stores but if you can hook up a set you’ll be the king of the neighborhood in no time.


3. Croquet – Croquet is on the opposite end of the yard sports momentum meter from Kan Jam.  Back in the 80’s everyone had a croquet set.  I don’t know who the marketing geniuses were behind croquet but they got the job done.  While croquet may have faded in prominence it need apologize to no game when it comes to yard sports excellence.   It takes some setting up but is easy to play whether you know the rules or not, can be made to not only fit any yard but be improved by odd spots in the yard, and most definitely works with alcohol involved.  Best of all with the ‘faded glory’ factor you can definitely hook up a used croquet set for under $20.


4. Lawn Darts – Do they even sell lawn darts anymore?  The same people who banned dodgeball in school seem to have managed to convince a gullible public that throwing weighted missiles with pointed steel tips while under the influence of alcohol is dangerous.  It’s a crying shame because this one ticks all the yard sports boxes.  Space is rarely an issues (other than if you want to avoid getting nailed by an errant throw), it takes only one arm to play and there’s no one around who can’t at least attempt to get the darts in the designated target area.  If it weren’t banned in 48 states this would have been at the top of the list.  Oh, and apparently lawn darts are actually illegal which undoubtedly means you can get them but they’ll be insanely expensive.


5. Bocce – On the surface of it bocce seems like a perfect fit.  You can play casually in any space, need only the basic ability to throw a ball underhanded, and there is nothing about it that would cause so much as a ripple in your beer.  But bocce carries one unintended side effect: deuchebaggery.  Any time you see a group of guys playing bocce in the park you instantly get a sense they are rich deuche bags.  Maybe someday the working class will embrace bocce and it will climb the list but for the moment it’s stuck at number 5.  I won’t tell you not to try bocce, just know that you do so at your own risk.


Just as there are yard sports we recommend there are also those you should avoid.  Don’t be fooled by how similar these three are to approved yard sports as each will lead you down the wrong track:

  • Badminton & Volleyball – These two are basically the same thing.  You have to set up a net, you have to have a large flat space, you can’t play while holding a beer, and you can make the Olympics if you’re really good at them.  Sorry, not yard sports qualified.
  • Wiffleball – The problem with wiffleball is that it’s actually too good.  You can’t bust out a wiffleball bat without two things happening: You’ll begin quoting the Beastie Boys under your breath and every guy within a mile dropping everything to come prove his manhood.  Wiffleball is simply too competitive to work as a yard sport anymore.  It will all start out fun enough but guaranteed it gets out of hand and ends in tears.
  • Frisbee – Frisbee isn’t a yard sport because all you can do is throw it back and forth.  That’s just playing catch without a mitt. But while we’re talking about Frisbee, what ever happened to the Aerobee?  Can you still buy that?  There was nothing better in grade school then a kid showing up with a new Aerobee because it meant the excitement of seeing how far you could throw it combined with the pure comedy of it inevitably ending up on a roof or in a tree lost forever.  Trees would literally grow in the desert for those things to get stuck in so any parent who bought on was clearly just trying to teach their kid about loss.  If they do still make them please send one to Cosby Sweaters HQ, I’m confident we can top the current world record throw.

There you have your official guide to the best yard sports.  Follow these guidelines and you can’t go wrong.  Now go forth and barbecue like a champion.