Monday, August 9, 2010

Party in The uGA

Go Dawgs. It's been one helluva summer here in Athens since we last convened. I'll refer you to this Chronicle of Higher Ed. post for a good summary.

First, the dog died. Then it died again. Then PETA said the next Uga should be a robot. Things started to look up when University of Georgia officials scoffed at that idea and selected Uga VII's half brother, Russ, as interim mascot.

But this summer, everything went south again when Georgia's athletics director resigned after being arrested on a DUI charge with a female "friend" in the car and, according to the arresting officer, a "red pair of lady's panties between his legs." Then a Bulldog football player who was being arrested after shooting off fireworks didn't know how to spell his middle name. Then two more football players were suspended after being arrested on alcohol charges.

Next, Georgia sports fans narrowly approved the idea that appointing a new Uga was more important than appointing a new athletics director, with nearly a quarter voting that Russ should be made the new athletic director.

As Georgia was licking its wounds, the Princeton Review stepped up and poured salt on them, selecting the university as its No. 1 party school, a designation that everyone knows is ridiculously unscientific but that nonetheless gets way, way, way more publicity than something deserving, like the number of Rhodes Scholars your institution has produced or the fact that both R.E.M. and the B-52's emerged from the Athens, Ga., music scene.

Finally, in an unfortunate bit of timing (given the recent "party school" rap), someone released Georgia's ill-thought freshman-orientation video, below, which got savaged by Deadspin and left us with an earworm that promises to linger long after Uga VIII begins his reign, whenever that might be.

It's either "earworm" or brain death.

The video might be the most tone-deaf (literally) move ever sanctioned by "the uGA" (don't ask me about the spelling, I'm just keeping it real). Think about it: a video distributed to incoming freshman touting the "party" here? Particularly after several well-publicized incidents of incoming freshmen being arrested during orientation in the summer (how proud their parents must be)? And was that really head football coach Mark Richt in there?

I'm hardly a prude on this issue. As I've noted for years, the connection between a drinking age of 21 and things like binge drinking, alcohol poisonings and other crimes on college campuses has been shown over and over in the research. It reached a point two years ago where several college presidents signed a petition calling for a "re-thinking" of the minimum age 21 year old drinking laws.

But the extreme to which it seems out of control here in Athens, whether disproportionate in the coverage or not, and the degree to which this was lost on whomever sanctioned said orientation video, has given us a black eye. The message of all these stories, and encapsulated perfectly in the video, seems to be if we can't be number one in academics or athletics, we'll be number one in stupid.

Oh well, the semester starts next week, followed by fuhball a few weeks later, and this summer and all its craziness will be a distant memory. The biggest concern we have now, according to the polls, is finding the next football mascot.

In that light, I offer this suggestion, designed to keep the PETA activists pacified, and still provide a rallying cry for Bulldog Nation: The Dos Equis Guy.

"I don't normally drink beer, but when I do, I drink at the uGA."

Stay thirsty, my friends.

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