Thursday, October 29, 2009

Beer Pong or Beirut? North Country College Students Debate

By Jeremy Fisher

Talk to any college student across the country and theres a good chance that most will agree on what a college party should consist of. They would probably say that there should be beer and lots of it. They would probably also say that there should be a game involved with beer, particularly one that involves two teams on a table, tossing ping balls into their opponents' cups. What many college students in country, including ones in the North County, don't agree on is what the game is actually called.

“As long as I have been in college, I've been hearing people arguing with each other over what it's called,” said Paul Skaperdas, a student at the University of Vermont in Burlington. “Many people call it beer pong and many people call it beirut.”

There are multiple college campuses scattered around the North Country region and there doesn't seem to be any consensus among the students on the title of the famed beer sport.

“I think the majority of the people I know here call it beer pong,” said Don Distasio, student at SUNY Plattsburgh. “Although I have met some people at parties who call it beirut.”

According to Skaperdas, it is the complete opposite across Lake Champlain than it is in Plattsburgh.

“I call it beer pong, but there are way more people who say beirut,” said Skaperdas. “When I make a list for people who want to play at our parties, I write 'beer pong' across the top, but someone always crosses it out and writes 'beirut'.”

Legend has it that the game that most undergrads play now was derived in the early 80s at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. Folklore has it that a couple frat boys got bored and started throwing balls into each other's cups. The name “beirut” was supposedly conjured up because they felt like they were “bombing” the cups, reflecting the U.S. Military involvement in Beirut, Lebanon at the time. However, many people are in disagreement over this origin, just like they are in disagreement over the name.

Ben Keefe, a former University of Vermont student and current SUNY Plattsburgh student believes that region has something to do with who calls it what.

“A lot of New Yorkers call it beer pong which is probably why its more common here in Plattsburgh,” said Keefe. “In Vermont, a lot of people are from New England and they call it beirut.”

Though many people in region believe that beirut and beer pong, despite the disagreements over the name, is still the same game. However, in some parts, students see it differently.

“To me, 'beer pong' is using ping pong balls,” said Frank Hunter, a student at SUNY Canton. “What I call 'beirut' is using quarters instead of balls with rules being slightly different than 'beer pong'.”

According Hunter, his version of beirut was being played at his fraternity long before regular beirut or beer pong became popular, adding more debate against the myth of the game's origin.

“That is the way we see it but I know many people who have different opinions,” said Hunter. “Some people say that with 'beer pong' you need to play with paddles to hit the ball into the cup and 'beirut' is when you just throw it.”

Still the debate continues among North Country collegians and other beer guzzlers across the country who enjoy the game. Despite the many arguments and disputes over the title, it seems as if young adults will continue playing beer pong/beirut into the foreseeable future.

“I personally don't care what people call it,” said Distasio. “It's all the same to me and I'll call it whatever as long as its fun.”


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