What's male bonding without a few beers, close friends and friendly competition?
If you asked Anthony Chavez, he'd probably add family to that list.
Chavez and 31 of his relatives - brothers, brothers-in-law, nephews, cousins and uncles - spent Saturday playing horseshoes, pool, darts, bowling and putting in their third annual Brother Olympics. It's a way to get the Chavez clan, which is spread out in Lawrence, Topeka and Wichita, together for a day of good-natured ribbing and competition.
"It's a guys' thing," Chavez, 41, said. "At the same time, it's a good family outing."
The idea originated in a bar three years ago when Chavez and two of his nephews were debating their athletic skills and ways to get their family together. Chavez is one of seven brothers, and said competition is inherent in the family.
"The only way to get it resolved was to have a competition," he said. So was born the Brothers Olympics, which according to the group's T-shirts, pits "hermano contra hermano" and "familia contra familia" - brother versus brother and family versus family.
The first year drew 16 family members. Last year saw 24 participants. This year they were vying for a $10 prize for each competition, and the coveted Brother Olympics Champion mug, given to the two-man team that amassed the most points after six events.
"You try to defend your title, but it's one of those things where it's just fun," Chavez, who won the inaugural event, said.
His nephew, Carlos Chavez, 24, Wichita, said the best part about the Brother Olympics was spending time with extended family members.
"As long as family is together, that's all that matters," he said. He said he has told his friends in Wichita about the event, and they have tried to think of ways to implement similar outings of their own.
Lawrence resident Hugh Carter, 42, moved back to the city two years ago after 20 years. Carter, a brother-in-law, said he met family members he barely knew he had, and even recognized some of the men after seeing them throughout town.
"I didn't realize there are this many (family members). I don't know half these people," he said. He reiterated the importance of being close to his family; one reason the Carters returned to Lawrence was so their children could be near the family.
While the group was boisterous, throwing good-natured insults back and forth, exclaiming dismay at each other's golf skills, it was far from rowdy. When they arrived at The Pool Room, 925 Iowa, the pool hall was mostly empty. But it quickly filled up, as the Chavez family commandeered seven pool tables.
David Robles, 30, received his master's degree in anthropology from Kansas University on Saturday, then set off to join his family members in the competition, arriving for horseshoes at Broken Arrow Park wearing his mortarboard.
He is moving to La Guajira, Colombia, next month and wasn't sure he'd be able to participate in next year's event.
"I think it's something special for a family to be close-knit, and organize this year after year," he said.
Robles said he is sad that he might have to miss next year's Brother Olympics, but he took an added measure to prepare for this year's competition. He took a bowling class at KU this semester.