Remember skeeball at Chuck E Cheese? The yellow tickets flowing out of the machine by the dozen; running to the prize counter with a cardboard bouquet above your head like it's the terrible towel in 2005. Finally, the jumbo slinky you always wanted.
Happiness came easy back then.
Lucky for you, skeeball is back as the only sport that allows you to relive your childhood — beer in hand. The game is the same, played by rolling a ball up a four-foot ramp into holes that allot anywhere from zero to 100 points. But now, tickets are redeemable for beer at the hosting bar, or season tickets to the kind of sport where players sweat.
On Thursday, the fledgling Pittsburgh Skeeball League holds a free introductory tournament at Cupka's Cafe II, on the South Side, with a $100 cash prize. Sign-ups for this introductory event start at 7 p.m.; the tournament starts at 8 p.m. It will be free games all night before and after the tournament.
Brandon Harris, skeeball "Master Guru" and owner of Charlotte, N.C.-based Skeenation — which calls itself "America's Premier Skeeball League" — insists that the beauty of this sport is "you do not have to be athletic to excel. There are plenty of people that have never been athletic enough to play football, basketball, soccer, etc, that are great at skeeball."
Skeenation-sponsored competitive leagues are popping up in cities across the nation. Pittsburgh's is slated to launch in the spring.
"It's a nostalgic game most all of us remember playing as a kid," Harris says. "Except now it's a lot more fun. Mix in a few adult beverages, compete against your friends, and have all your scores calculated into stats and it becomes really addicting."
And for those who give in to the fever, there is always the Super Roll. Last year, the national tournament was held in Atlanta. This year, it's Chicago. The team that wins the 2012 Super Roll will be awarded $3,000, and the person who wins the National High Roller Tournament goes home with $1,000.
Finally, whether you're looking to commit seriously or just have a good time, don't forget what Harris calls "the beauty of the 40":
"Aim for the 40. Too many people see the 100 holes and want to go for the glory. That is a quick way to getting a horrible score. The beauty of the 40 is if you roll your ball short, it hits the 30 pocket, if you roll a little long it goes in the 50, if you roll it a little to the left or right, in the 20."
Cupka's 2 is at 2314 E. Carson St., on the South Side.