A lot of people come up with “brilliant” ideas at frat parties, but not many of those involve the word “sober.” That’s exactly the kind of idea that men’s basketball players Brandon Sherrod ’15 and Javier Duren ’15 had at one such party last year, however.
The teammates have joined together to start #TeamSober, a group dedicated to promoting a non-drinking alternative to the social scene at Yale. The movement was born in what Duren called a “classic story.”
“This guy came up to me at a party and asked me if I wanted a drink and I said no,” Duren said. “He looked at me like I wasn’t cool. Then he offered a drink to Brandon and he said, ‘Nah I’m cool. I’m with Team Sober.’”
The two further discussed the idea and decided to turn #TeamSober into something more tangible. They received a grant from the Yale Christian Union to buy t-shirts and wristbands to promote the cause and developed a pledge for prospective followers.
Those under the age of 21 promise “I commit to abstain from the consumption of alcohol or other drugs,” whereas those above the legal drinking age commit “to not over-indulge in the consumption of alcohol,” according to Sherrod.
#TeamSober decided to increase its publicity this past weekend, advertising an “Orange Out” — the #TeamSober paraphernalia is as orange as the sunset over the flag — at this past Saturday’s home men’s basketball game against Harvard. Although the Elis fell 72–66 at the hands of the Cantabs, Sherrod and Duren considered the “Orange Out” to be a great success. Sherrod stated that he and Duren received between 10 and 15 requests for shirts for the event, adding to the approximately 35 to 40 who have already taken the pledge.
Sherrod and #TeamSober member Tanner Allread ’16 added that the sea of blue Yale shirts in the John J. Lee bleachers helped to make the orange #TeamSober shirts stick out in contrast during the nationally-televised game. #TeamSober then hosted an after party at the La Casa cultural house.
A recent signer of the pledge, Allread said that he was drawn to the program when he rushed Beta Upsilon Chi (BYX), a Christian fraternity that opened its doors on campus just this year. After talking with Sherrod and Duren, two of the founding members of the fraternity, Allread said that he made the decision to join the movement.
“For me, I did drink last semester,” Allread said. “I didn’t go all crazy and out all the time, but if there was a social event and there were drinks I would have a few … The pledge now for me is just to stop drinking … until I’m 21.”
Although Allread found the pledge through his involvement in a Christian organization, Allread and the #TeamSober founders all said that the movement is not inherently tied to Christianity.
“We would lose a lot of possible members [if we were just a Christian organization],” Sherrod said. “Whether it’s a religious decision or just a personal choice, we want people of all faiths.”
While many of the current pledges have come through Sherrod and Duren’s connections to BYX and Yale Faith and Action, Duren said that the group plans to reach out more to the student body at large, especially once it completes the paperwork to become a recognized student organization.
Duren and Sherrod will be in New York City on Friday night to lead the Bulldogs as they take on Columbia.