“Master Race! Master Race!” chanted my drunken Aryan friends. The “Beer Olympics” had seemed like a great idea; what better way to build camaraderie amongst brothers than to engage in the spirit of competition, and to do it while getting shitfaced? This has bonded men together since the athletics of the ancients. However, while our intentions might have been good-humored, this seemingly lighthearted, “all in good fun” game quickly developed into a competition between races—as I believe most sporting events do.
We have all heard it said, or maybe thought it ourselves, that there are some sports that black people “are just better at.” Basketball and track are the obvious examples, although I’m sure I could go on about other sports as well. Then, of course, there are sports where whites prevail in much higher numbers: golf, tennis, lacrosse, squash, and curling. I have never given this seemingly apparent truth much sincere thought. I grew up just taking it as an obvious fact, something that I had observed since I was old enough to differentiate between skin tones. I suppose there might be reasons that blacks don’t predominate in some of those other sports, due to a mixture of inherent athletic talents and socioeconomic circumstances. Since having participated in the Beer Olympics, I have come to believe that “drinking games” might be safe to add to the list of white-dominated sports.
The breakdown for the Olympics was simple. They consisted of games you could imagine any frat-star championing: boat races, pitcher chugging, chesties, flip cup, and, of course, the classic beer pong. There were seventeen guys, with four teams of four competing tournament-style in five events, and the seventeenth guy serving a dual role as referee/bookie. The ref split the teams based on race. There was the Aryan team (consisting of the dudes with blonde hair and blue eyes), the Jews, the ethnics (consisting of the south and east Asian guys alongside the black guys), and the mutts (consisting of the mixed race people and the leftover Caucasians). The ref/bookie then proceeded to seed the teams and take bets, putting point spreads on the groups. The lowest spread went to the Aryans (meaning they were favored to win), and the highest spread went to the ethnics (meaning they were favored to lose).
At this point I remember thinking, “Wow this is really fucked up.” And yet my competitive spirit made me determined to win (who doesn’t like a classic underdog story?). I put my capped-at-two dollar bet on Team Ethnics and got ready to rumble!
Throughout the competition it became apparent that the rankings were overwhelmingly accurate. The Aryans dominated the boat race and swept the flip cup. Although the ethnics did win the beer pong (I credit this to our basketball skills, alongside the fact that the Aryans were really drunk from the chugging events), I remember continually thinking throughout the Olympics how white people are far better than other races at drinking games.
I’m not entirely sure why this is. My running hypothesis is that minority people simply do not drink to the same extent (or in the same fashion) as white people. There is something about white people’s blatantly nihilistic drinking style that I believe holds black people back. For generations blacks were slaves, to be possessed and expended at the discretion of their white masters. Viewed as nothing more than property, blacks were without autonomy of their bodies and minds, and as a result, have come to be a race of people who place high value on self-sovereignty. It has become a cultural parenting practice amongst blacks to instill in children a sense of obedience and control that I believe many white parents do not. I think this can especially be said of the black students who end up getting into Princeton. Blacks refuse to be uninhibited to the point of unrestraint, and as a result I believe many black people are turned off by the lack of control that accompanies excessive chugging.
An economic argument can also be given to explain whites’ superior skill in drinking games. It is more economically prudent to buy a cheap bottle of liquor to get fucked up than it is a thirty rack of beer, which is not as cost effective in getting one drunk. The inefficiency of it all, in the experience of the black people I know, is particularly off-putting.
By the time we had completed the first four events, the Aryans and the mutts were tied for first and the ethnics and the Jews were tied for third. We entered into the tiebreaker event: pitcher chugging. The ethnics and the Jews set up to go head-to-head. Each member of the team had to finish chugging an entire pitcher before the next member of his team could start drinking. The team whose members all finished first won. The ref said “go,” the teams began chugging, and I couldn’t tell who was going to win until the end, when the ethnic’s anchor came in clutch with a big performance. Surprisingly, the ethnics upset the Jews, and everyone went wild.
Next it was time for the Aryans and the mutts to set up. The competition style was the same, except this time each member of the team had to finish two pitchers. It was at this point that the Aryans started chanting their heinous chant, “Master Race! Master Race!”
I’m not going to lie: I wanted to kick the shit out of the Aryans. Not because of who they were, because there were good guys in there, but what they represented. While I personally have no malice towards anyone, I wanted to beat them simply because of what they embodied: whiteness, to its fullest extent. I often have a hard time grappling with my conception of white identity. I’m not sure what it would constitute, other than a vague sense of privilege that I could never understand or even hope to define, and to some degree, something that they (white people) may not even be aware exists. In this battle, as in all of my life, whiteness was merely what separated us from them, and me from him. It is something unattainable that I could neither hope nor desire to have.
The ref said “go” and the teams began. After a lot of chanting, a little throwing up, and a whole bunch of beer being chugged, Team Mutts emerged victorious! This admittedly satisfied me; the Aryans’ chant of “master race,” although playful, was so deeply rooted in historical realities that it disturbed me to the core. Their chant was a piercing reminder that to some degree many whites still subconsciously view themselves as the entitled, superior race, and thus was a validation of the reality that we only nominally live in a post-racial society.
I do not think that the events from the Olympics troubled others as much as they did me. I suppose that I, along with people who look like me, are burdened with a long memory and an eye for things that most people suspect are long gone. I was never going to be a full participant in this event, because I was cursed (and blessed) with a different lens, a veil through which to view society that leaves me marginalized not only at the Beer Olympics, but in another, larger experiment: America.