‘Win or lose, the Cougs will booze’

Jared Kozey

Alcohol is one of the most popular drugs in the western world, and most athletes who use it use it socially. But how long is it until athletes’ social drinking habits affect their game-time performance?

The U of R finds itself located right in the middle of whiskey drinkin’ and Rider crazy Pil country.

Regina’s love affair with liquor does not transcend collegiate sports. In fact, it drips over in the form of keg parties, beers in the locker room, and rookie nights breeding its own tradition at the U of R. 

“I think it’s just the culture. It’s something I noticed when I first got here; I vividly saw and heard the differences,” said one anonymous Cougars athlete. “Where I am from there is no term, ‘getting blackout.’ You don’t go out somewhere to get blackout. I’m not saying we don’t, it may happen by accident. Social drinks do not exist – at least in college. It’s all about getting wasted. There is this stigma that it’s OK to just go out and get wasted all the time.”

Like with any other habit, the longer it is permitted to continue, the more resistance one will experience when change is introduced. Should the U of R athletics department ever crack down on athletes drinking, the same will happen.

But the history of athletes drinking at the U of R is a long one and won’t be changed overnight. At this level, players are of varying ages and many are adults who can make their own decisions. There is a fine line that coaches must walk when telling a player what they can and cannot do, but it does beg the question. Would a no-drinking rule even be taken seriously in a U of R locker room and would it be able stop the booze-happy heritage that is so firmly cemented?

“I think a no drinking rule would cause a lot of controversy, but I do see the logic in it and, if that is the team’s goal, then in the end of it all the commitment to that team is more important and you all have to do it together,” offered another Cougars athlete. “It should take priority.”

This debate would never occur if we go internationally and look at the NCAA.  The NCAA provides room and board for their players, making them sign legal documentation committing them to very restricted and sometimes absurd standards.

“Everything is taken very seriously. When you go down there you are legally committing to that school and there really is a sense that you represent more then just the basketball team on the court,” said another Cougar athlete. “If you end up fucking up, it’s a smudge on the school’s name as well as your own.”

This is taken to an exaggerated measure when looked at relative to social drinking, but it has strong value. These players do still represent the U of R, but the adjacent culture’s already lax attitudes towards drinking spill over and the athletes who drink are more or less, only frowned upon. 

“We do represent the U of R, but as a society we do not put as much emphasis on our amateur sports,” one Cougars athlete said. “At the end of the day, it’s not as big of a deal for us to go grab a beer, or be seen in public doing so; things are taken in relativity and there are no repercussions, even though there maybe should be.  The sign when driving towards Regina doesn’t read, ‘Home of the Cougars,’ it reads ‘Welcome to Pil country.”

These are comparisons with other varying factors, such as age restrictions in the states preventing their university athletes from drinking two years longer than CIS athletes.

However, the premise still stays the same; there is a level of commitment one must undertake for the privilege to play sports at the university level.

But, with restrictions being non-existent to many, if not all, of the U of R athletic programs for liquor, this battle between players’ decision-making and coaches law never occurs.

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