Beirut, the athletic equalizer

For the three or four of you who might not know what I’m talking about, Beirut is a game in which cups of beer are placed on opposite sides of a long table and two teams alternate trying to throw ping-pong balls into the opposing team’s cups. When a team throws a ball into one of the other team’s cups, the other team must drink the beer in said cup. Play alternates until one team has successfully thrown ping-pong balls into all of the other team’s cups.

The problem with this isn’t really the game itself-Beirut is no dumber than paper football, tic-tac-toe or even hockey (please don’t kill me, guys!). The real problem is the reverence with which people regard the game. A team winning five games in a row achieves the title of “dynasty” and the respect of their peers. Students often boast of their Beirut prowess, talking of streaks in which they “sunk” several cups in a row. I’m not sure about you guys, but in my mind throwing ping-pong balls into a cup ranks somewhere between reciting the alphabet backwards and spinning a pen in your hand.

Perhaps the real problem here is the idea of the drinking game itself.

In all drinking games (Beirut, kings, quarters, etc.) the loser is required to drink some amount of alcohol, but isn’t getting drunk the objective in the first place? It’s an enigma, concealed in a riddle, hidden in something else that is confusing. Surely it is question that will most likely require several more games of Beirut and several more cases of Natty Light to answer.

So next weekend, as you make your way towards the social dorms or Hamilton or Mayo-Smith, think for a minute about the meaning of it all. Then feel free to get drunk as usual. I will be drinking liquor before beer, for by doing so I will surely be in the clear.