Editorial: Alcohol doesn’t have to be focus of Games

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    NewsNet Editorial Board

    We expect the boys on frat row to describe the connection between “good time” and “alcohol” as “crucial,” not the leaders in city hall.

    Yet, Salt Lake City’s freshman mayor, Ross (Rocky) Anderson, upon hearing SLOC’s president announce his decision to ban alcohol sales and advertising at the city’s medals plaza, responded with the same disdain many fraternity members respond with when speaking of a “dry” brotherhood.

    From Sydney, Anderson explained, “Crucial to a successful Games is making certain people have a lot of choices in terms of having a good time.”

    The mayor then went on to reveal exactly what a trip to Sydney has taught him about those who attend Olympic games: “They expect to have a very good time.”

    Considering its context, Anderson’s revelation implies simply that alcohol puts the “very” in “very good time.” This is not the first time Anderson has seemed to laude the virtues of alcohol. His opinion of Utah’s “arcane” liquor laws is well publicized; as well as his prediction that if Utah does not change those laws before 2002, it will be a mistake.

    Of playing host to Olympic officials at future Olympic parties Anderson says simply, “We better have alcohol.” Indeed, Anderson’s endorsement of a free flowing 2002 has been so enthusiastic, perhaps the new theme “Light the Fire Within” ought to run with the Anheuser-Busch logo alongside – a sort of mayoral tip to those wondering how to ignite that particular flame.

    Anderson’s implication that the spirit of the Olympics needs alcohol to acquire the necessary potency to entertain the world is a degradation of the true Olympic tradition.

    This is not to say there are not valid arguments to counter SLOC’s proposal. However, any argument that chains Olympic success to alcohol consumption grossly over-exaggerates alcohol’s contribution while grossly underestimating the potential of the Games themselves.

    Furthermore, though the plaza itself has been dubbed alcohol-free, Olympic patrons will have no trouble finding a drink in the immediate area.

    According to Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, there are 126 restaurants, bars and clubs offering alcohol within the plaza’s own, and neighboring, zip code. This does not include 7-11s and supermarkets.

    And in the end Anderson appears to be creating an issue for his own agenda.

    Byron Dickson, senior marketer for the Calgary Olympic Development Association, in a recent interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, said alcohol consumption at the Calgary games in 1988 was surprisingly low.

    “People are there to enjoy the events. It’s not an opportunity to binge,” Dickson said.

    We hold that alcohol consumption has never played a “crucial” role in the success of any Olympic games. And if Salt Lake City decides to allow alcoholic beverages in the medals plaza, we wonder if history will remember it as an attempt to be hospitable or just another attempt to bribe the world into coming to Salt Lake City in 2002.

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