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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Back To School Shopping

That's what Will Yeatman of Notre Dame's football and lacrosse teams is up to these days. And I'm not talking a new outfit. I'm talking a new school. Yeatman is transferring out of Notre Dame after a few alcohol related incidents in the past few years at Notre Dame. At this point it's unclear where he is headed; it's looking like College Park right now, and it's been made clear that he wants to be somewhere where he can compete both in lacrosse (immediately) and football (after having to sit a year, if he seeks another IA program).

While the transfer has made significant headlines now in the lacrosse offseason, it is the alcohol issues that lead me to this post. Allow me to step into a world only tangentially related to the sports and marching about which I claim to blog.

*Cue "A Very Special '80 Minutes of Regulation'" music*

Many who follow the news or are currently involved in higher education are familiar with the Amethyst Initiative, a consortium of college and university chancellors/presidents who urge for a reexamination of the current US drinking age. The obvious alternative, of course, would be lowering it back to the previous age of 18.

Back in late August, on my way into the office (I work at a university) early for some Welcome Week programming, I was listening to the local hip-hop station I usually tune in, and in their early-morning weekend show, they were talking about the Amethyst Initiative. There were two parties, a man and a woman, carrying the conversation, with callers adding to the discussion, but the general gist was that it was a travesty that such a thing would even be discussed. The conversation went as far as to condemn a certain HBCU president (I had remembered it being the chancellor of NC A&T, but as I look at the undersigned, I think it may have been Beverly Daniel Tatum of Spelman College) for signing on.

At this point, I wanted to, and would have if time would have allowed, call in and note to the decriers that the Initiative states that one of its purposes is "To support an informed and dispassionate public debate over the effects of the 21 year-old drinking age." (emphasis mine). How can one blame a president of an institution of higher education for a call to public discourse? There are presidents who have signed not necessarily out of agreement with the lowering of the drinking age, but out of a desire to have the tough conversations--this much can be seen at the site in these presidents' own words.

Personally? It's not an issue on which I have too much of an opinion. I tend to agree with the camp that says "if you're old enough to vote and die for your country at 18, you should be able to have a beer". On the other hand, 18-20 year olds are by and large slightly post-pubescent assholes, and are moreso with something to drink in them. The rub? Nothing magic happens when they hit the age of 21.

Still, this Initiative being spearheaded by college presidents seems to me to be quite self-serving. The obvious is this: The demands on campus security and resources related to underage drinking change drastically if a relative handful of your charges are under legal drinking age, vs. roughly 3/4 of traditional college-age students, as it currently stands with the drinking age at 21.

Hmm... college presidents? Self serving? Sounds like a big part of the reason there's no playoff in Division I-A football.

And with that, I've brought it all back around to the sports with which it began.
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