Our Odd Relationship With Booze

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - October 26, 2005
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I feel sympathy for the Aloha Stadium Authority, the UH administration and Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona.

No way can they come up with an alcohol-at-football-games policy that is going to make us all happy.

That’s because of our ambivalence about drinking.

Booze may be mostly bad for us, but drinking seems to be in our genes.

The sociology department at State University of New York has documented that the Puritans loaded more beer than water aboard the Mayflower, the first Thanksgiving was awash in beer, brandy, gin and wine, and a brewery was one of Harvard College’s first construction projects so there’d be beer for the student dining halls.

Americans consume more than $20 billion worth of alcoholic beverages every year. Cable TV now carries hard liquor ads, and can broadcast TV be far behind?

Who are the two biggest sponsors of NFL telecasts? Coors and Bud.

We bemoan drunken drivers and violence spawned by inebriation, but keep approving 4 a.m. bars here. The last time I was in Wyoming, it had drive-thru package stores. Honk if you like Jim Beam.

Drinking at UH football games is like ... well, like yelling or cheering or trash talking. Could we have movie theaters without popcorn?

Some people get sloshing drunk at football games. You’d need the Hawaii Army National Guard to enforce stadium-wide sobriety. And, no, you can’t have that because the Guard is trying to enforce some other things right now in Iraq.

Money. The beer that’s sold inside the stadium is nothing to barf at. So the adjudicators have played with the idea of just banning drinking during the tailgate period before games. That’s pretty self-serving for the Authority and absolutely not policeable.

Once upon a time we could-n’t buy any alcohol on an election day. Other states have banned Sunday sales, sales outside government liquor stores (that’s mainly to generate more government revenue) and no hard liquor in grocery stores. We don’t permit bars nextdoor to schools or churches, although I fail to see what the connection is. Makes us feel better, I guess. Wal-Mart’s starting to sell hard liquor. We can now order wine delivered to us from the Internet.

If we went the full monty and banned all drinking inside Aloha Stadium there’d be an uproar and maybe a big drop in attendance, especially now that there’s the pay-per-view TV option. If we let the drinking continue, there will be fights and various incidents of ugliness that upset families and non-drinkers.

Besides, you can drink your head off just before you go to the game.

Hey, Christopher Columbus celebrated with sherry when he discovered us, and The Economist claims Magellan spent more on booze than weapons when he set out to circumnavigate the planet.

Bans on things tend not to work.

I recommend trying a heavy-duty education blitz via newspapers and TV, reminding people that if the craziness doesn’t stop, the ban is all that’s left in the bag of solutions.

Or maybe a strangling tax - an extra dollar on each glass of beer. Like the cigarette tax.

That’s not fair taxation because some can afford it without blinking. Others cannot.

You see where this exploration of the topic has gone?

There’s absolutely nada that is workable and fair.

* * *

Talk about Rep. Neil Abercrombie running for governor doesn’t make much sense.

The man’s a political lightning rod. He does well in Washington where most voters don’t see or hear him, in a Congress that’s heavily conservative GOP. At home, he’s got my disease. Says what he thinks people need to hear, even if lots of folks don’t want to hear it.

Harry Kim? Not a state-wide player or fund raiser.

The Democrats only have two who are up to Linda Lingle. Ed Case and Walter Dods.

Those are the facts, whether you want to hear them or not.

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