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A Modest Proposal
By Erik Swanson
Monday, October 25, 2004
I believe that the Boston Red Sox are going to win the World Series.
I never thought I would say those words. And mean them. But here we are, two wins away. In his memoir about his own sports obsession, Nick Hornby wrote these words: "I can recall nothing else that I have coveted for two decades (what else is there that can reasonably be coveted for that long?), nor can I recall anything else that I have desired as both man and boy. So please, be tolerant of those who describe a sporting moment as their best ever. We do not lack imagination, nor have we had sad and barren lives; it is just that real life is paler, duller, and contains less potential for unexpected delirium."
That unexpected delirium is what the city of Durham and UNH are so worried about. It's why, in moments like this, they've flooded downtown Durham with cops. Delirium is dangerous, or so they say. But is it true? What we want is to celebrate. The first UNH "riot" was hardly filled with mayhem. Some old dorm couches got burned, and people jumped around and laughed and high-fived each other and got drunk. Ever since then, the response has been more cops, more cops, more cops.
I think there's another way. I think that there needs to be another way. Because we're all going to want to celebrate this thing when we win it. The cops are going to want to celebrate, too. Shouldn't they be allowed that pleasure? To drink in the incredible feeling of victory after having come close so many times?
I think it's possible to let everyone get together and celebrate without anything terrible happening. But it will require some changes. First and foremost, I think the city of Durham needs to close down the bars after the Sox get their third win. While this might seem draconian, the biggest magnet pulling people downtown is the belief that people are already celebrating there.
Second, the University needs to set up a real celebration. I imagine a field on campus, far from downtown, with the game projected onto a big screen, and thousands gathered together to watch the victory. If the campus knows most people will be in one place after the game, they'll go there when the dam breaks. But how do we get them there?
There's a reason nobody goes to campus events. You're not allowed to drink at them. Or, on the rare occasions where people are allowed to drink, you get cops staring at every ID for five minutes, armbands to make sure you don't have more than two watered-down beers, and, basically, no fun at all.
Just this once, I'm begging the University to look the other way. Let us bring our 30-packs and let us get drunk. Just this once, don't hassle people for transporting their backpacks filled with Keystone Light to the celebration, and just this once let us be stupid. Let us drink and laugh and high-five each other. Let us celebrate. We need this.
I can pretty much guarantee that if there was a place for us to just get drunk, act crazy, and celebrate, that's all that will happen. Last week, after the incredible comeback against the hated New York Yankees, Victoria Snelgrove, a student at Emerson, was killed by a rubber bullet. Did she deserve to die? Why? So some windows don't get smashed? So nobody burns a couch?
I don't want there to be any Victoria Snelgroves at UNH. And there don't need to be. When the Red Sox win this thing, it will be the greatest moment of my life. The normal reaction to a seemingly impossible victory is delirium. Let us have that delirium. Let us have it.
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