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Olympics & Beer

I may have some of the facts here wrong or may simply be missing something, but over the last week of paying some passing attention to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver — especially Curling — an odd picture has emerged concerning beer and America at the Olympics. A few nights on the Stephen Colbert Report, Colbert visited several nation’s International Houses, places for the athletes, visitors and sponsors from individual countries to go and relax with their fellow citizens and watch the competitions they don’t have tickets to, as well. Usually, they show off part of their culture — or the sponsor’s products — and they’re also places to celebrate. For example, at the Swiss House they had fondue, the Irish House featured folk music and the Russian House had foosball hockey. After visiting several houses, Colbert ends the segment back at the Irish House, saying it was because USA House didn’t have a bar.

That’s right, even after doubling the size of USA’s hospitality and having two separate houses (one in Vancouver and one in Whistler) there was no bar for American athletes or sponsors. Now, I don’t know for certain that we’re the only international house without a bar, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me. We’ve done our level best to separate alcohol and move it into this otherworld that’s separate from the regular world that everyone lives in. So besides the fact that every other country can handle having alcohol be a part of their celebrations, at USA Central it’s believed that sports and alcohol can’t mix. You see it in college sports. You see it in the drive to eliminate drinking at professional sporting events. It’s always motivated by the fact that because some people can’t handle themselves, so then the logic is everyone should be prohibited from enjoying themselves. I’m sure other countries have their share of people trying to ruin it for everyone else — but somehow they’ve managed to make it the problem of those individual people and not the majority who can just get on with it. I, too, cringe whenever I see a bad drunk but not because I fear for that person, but because I know that neo-prohibitionists will look at that person and extrapolate his problem to include everyone who drinks. And so one result is the American Olympic Committee concludes it’s too risky for there to be a bar in our international house, despite the fact that craft beer is something America should be justly proud of.

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