Jan 272002

Never have I been so proud to be Italian (well, part Italian).

I like to think of myself as having some smarts, but now I know it’s because I’ve got Italian in my blood. I’ve always thought that if there’s a will, there’s a way, and I find I get this philosophy from my full-blooded Italian grandma.

So you saw the Collegian’s top headline on Wednesday, right? The one talking about alcohol: “Alcohol in Utah will come at a price.” That’s the word that caught my attention.

Anyway, the story was about how Italy’s Olympic officials have found a way to get 360 cases of wine into the state of Utah for the Olympic Games, and without paying the 78.6 percent markup the state imposes on imports of liquor. It will have to pay $1 for each of the 4,376 bottles it brings. But hey, the Italians are getting wasted after each gold medal – or after each defeat.

And they’re not alone. You knew the Russians would find a way. They don’t go anywhere without their Stolichnaya vodka.

Is this really a surprise? We all know drinking isn’t the favorite thing to do around Utah, but it is pretty popular in the rest of this world. You have to figure that when you invite the world to your home, you might have to adapt a little to their ways.

Here’s the plan: alcohol will only be sold in an open-ended tent, with customers passing through three check stations. Alcoholic beverages are limited to mulled red wine, hot brandy, hot buttered rum and a selection of low-alcohol beers on tap. All alcoholic beverages will be sold in clearly marked cups.

But this is the legal stuff, not considering the black market that will pop up. As always, there will be a problem with underage drinkers, and then those whose liquor of choice is not offered.

Sad as it may sound, alcohol is a large part of sports. Stadiums charge $6 a beer at games because they know fans will find the money to drink. Advertisers know this, which is why bars offer drink specials during games and why Miller Lite has contests to throw a Super Bowl party. Utah’s strict liquor laws won’t make the Games more peaceful, or more sober for that matter.

Like I said, where there’s a will, there’s a way. The will is definitely there, from the athletes and the fans. People will find a way to drink, and drink what they want. It’s just going to make law enforcers spend more time searching for alcohol, rather than looking for things that can seriously cause harm, such as the bombs we encountered the last time the Olympics were held in America.

Chairman of the Alcohol Policy Coalition George Van Komen said there could be no worse a scene than one caused by an unruly (a.k.a. drunk) crowd or individual. Call me crazy, but another terrorist attack tops my list.

So as proud as I may be of the Italians getting their wine in, the real issue is safety. People have always found a way to drink, even when not allowed. Utah should focus on protecting its guests, not its image.

Jon is a junior journalism major.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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