Beer in Sports
Author: Ken Wolf
While watching my Reds lose the other night and stewing about how it’s been the norm for too long, I grabbed a beer from the fridge and magic happened. As the glorious suds washed over my lips, I didn’t care about the score, or the nightmare of being a Cincy fan, or how life isn’t quite what I’d like or expected it to be at this juncture in time, I was enjoying a cold brew while viewing sport and all was well. No matter what else is going on in the world, no matter the current state of your own, there is always comfort and humanity to be had in combining these two gifts from the gods. It’s hard to think of a better marriage. While plenty worthy on their own, together beer and sports are the wonder couple.
They’ve been joined for ages. Where and when the union began is debatable. And as with any relationship, there have been issues. In the late 1800s the American Association was formed amongst river cities, including my hometown, in protest against the ‘puritanical’ National League, which prohibited alcohol on their grounds. The AA (ironically) was known as ‘The Beer and Whiskey League,’ and it catered to blue collar folk/immigrants, with cheaper ticket prices and a more relaxed atmosphere. The AA would eventually fold against the more powerful National, but beer sales in baseball became the norm (outside that Prohibition nonsense).
I know when I enter a stadium, the first thing I do (unless I’ve been tailgating and B line to the bathroom), is become Sherlock Holmes and investigate the easiest way to procure a cold one. And I don’t care what kind. There’s no beer snob in me at the game. I’d almost prefer a cheap local brew. Just feels right.
There will always be people who overindulge. Driving, falling, fighting, and screaming booze soaked profanities need to be watched, amongst other things. But that blame lies on us, not the sport or the beer. Most of the time. Last month was the 45th Anniversary of ‘Ten Cent Beer Night’ in Cleveland, Indians vs Rangers. 10 cents/beer and you could buy six at a time. 52 cents in 2019 money. Yes, it was ‘3.2’ beer, but that translates to 4% ABV, which is basically the same as a light domestic beer today. Asking for trouble. And trouble ensued.
A woman ran out to the on-deck circle and flashed her boobs. Multiple streakers sprinted around and a father and son mooned the stadium from the outfield. Family bonding. Hot dogs and bottles were thrown at players. Firecrackers were tossed into the bullpen. A riot broke out in the ninth where the bases were literally stolen and bat brandishing players joined forces against fans, some wielding knives, chains, and ripped out metal chairs. The game was forfeited to Texas, nine were arrested, and there were an unknown number of non-fatal injuries between all parties involved. That’s a ballgame. Not one I’d take the family to, but would eagerly attend with my college buddies.
Overall, beer and sport and have been extremely beneficial to each other. The dollars involved are astounding, in both sales and advertising deals. Beer barons and their pockets were at the heart of the American Association, just as profit drives the relationship today. Fine with me, as long as I can enjoy my cerveza.
Which brings me to my personal favorite beer in sport memory. The Cerveza Pilseners I had at a soccer match in Guayaquil, Ecuador. It was a hot steamy night, as it typically is on the Equator, and between the heat and chaos of the scene, those cheap beers were heaven in a can. Beer in sport has no boundaries. This duo is beloved in places of all kinds by people of all kinds. A true human unifier……for the most part.
I’d love to hear your personal favorite beer in sport moment. Whether it be at a stadium, a bar, another country, or just sitting on your couch, where plenty of mine have been enjoyed. Cheers.