Florida President Fights Brave, Futile Battle Against Alcohol, Common Sense

Bernie Machen is the president of the University of Florida. He wants the City of Jacksonville, host to "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" (a.k.a. the Florida-Georgia game) to reduce the number of places selling alcohol in Jacksonville by 50 percent in order to curb binge drinking at the game. The sum total of events leading up to these requests: ↵

↵-- A 19-year-old fell off a parking garage in 2004. ↵

↵

↵-- Five locals beat and killed Tom Brown, a Florida student, when he was separated from his friends during the weekend's festivities. ↵

↵

↵-- 27-year-old Scott Amos fell down stairs and died as a result of his injuries. ↵

↵

↵ ↵

↵

↵Dismiss the random violence of the second -- it's random violence, and completely inexplicable by alcohol. Now you're down to a trend of two, which is no trend at all, and more of an argument for partying on level ground than it is evidence against having alcohol readily available at the game. This is not saying binge drinking is a good ↵thing: in fact, it can lead to things like falling off parking garages and dying, especially if you're not a regular drinker and not aware of your boundaries. ↵

↵

↵The question is whether any of this is the business of a University president who has already taken the absurd step of having network announcers refer to the game as something other than "The World's Largest Cocktail Party," which everyone calls it anyway, including anything I will ever write on the subject. (Example: "The World's Largest Cocktail Party" is the proper name of the Florida/Georgia game, and will be forever no matter what a University president who doesn't like booze says.) ↵

↵

↵Machen's obviously not fond of alcohol. Fine: as a dentist, he shouldn't be. I am, and so are thousands of other people who will turn up in Jacksonville for the game this year and every year afterward. I don't really remember all that much from my time as an undergraduate at the University of Florida, but I do remember enough statistics to remember that two does not a trend make, and also enough from my econ classes elsewhere that if you restrict market access, you end up with people selling jello shooters out of coolers on the sidewalk in what is referred to as "a black market." Most people get drunk at tailgates, anyway, meaning that unless Machen is willing to start trunk searches for 100,000 surly people in line to park at the game, he's out of luck on breaking the enduring bond between booze and collegiate athletics. ↵

↵

↵Especially at The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, the proper name for the Georgia/Florida game, which is called The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Can we type that one more time to irritate a nannying university president? Sure: World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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