In her column yesterday, Rebecca Stern ’12 alerts would-be revelers to the disease-spreading potential of beer pong, and even offers a few tips about ways to make Yale’s favorite drinking game safer (“The drinking game of disease,” March 30). As I read her article, I nearly spit out my Keystone Light in surprise at her presumptive and misinformed attitude toward drinking games and infectious disease.
Stern begins her polemic by offering an absurd juxtaposition between the “five-second rule” we observe in Commons and our seemingly contradictory willingness to reuse a ping-pong ball that has touched the floor of a fraternity house. As a member of the God Quad, the Branford party suite that proudly practices a very “fratty” lifestyle, I resent the callous assumption that the space beneath our couch is covered in “germs, dirt, hair and dust.” A room that plays host to a game of beer pong is not necessarily a dirty one; we invite her to inspect the God Quad’s standard of cleanliness before ascribing a modicum of dirtiness to our cherished habit.
Stern cites a litany of disease-causing bacteria and viruses that can be found on beer pong cups, While I understand that microorganisms may be transferred to and among beer pong cups, I would suggest that the environment of the cups (about 5 percent ethanol with few nutrients) is not conducive to high rates of reproduction, keeping the bugs’ population sizes low and rendering infection very unlikely.
Furthermore, I disagree with the assumption that exposure to potentially harmful pathogens is to be avoided. I am a firm believer in the power of the immune system. Studies and common sense have suggested that children with overly protective parents, and subsequently reduced exposure to a variety of germs early in life, generally develop weaker immune systems than children who are allowed to scrape their knees and play in the mud from time to time.
While I disagree with most of the points made in Stern’s column, I would like to make a conciliatory gesture that, I hope, highlights the most positive aspects of beer pong: friendship through competition. I, along with other members of the God Quad, invite you to play a friendly game with us in our suite. We promise we’ll keep it clean.
The writer is a senior in Branford College