Billy Gaines is a 26-year-old patent attorney in Chicago, and a former competitive swimmer at Carnegie Mellon University. He’s also the patron saint of Beer Pong fans, as one of the owners of a Web site dedicated to the drinking game. He is just back from Las Vegas, where he sponsored the World Series of Beer Pong.
As I wrote on Tuesday, it’s a game that is behind what appears to be an epidemic of binge drinking on college campuses, especially by underage students. That’s the game as some see it. It’s not the game as Gaines sees it.
“There’s a lot of misconceptions about the game,” he told me in an interview on Wednesday. “The media will jump out and say Beer Pong is a drinking game and they’ll say the cups are filled with beer… the first misconception is the cups are full with beer. The way the game is most often played is the beer is filled with only a couple of ounces. We make it so people play one game per hour so at most there’s one beer per person per hour consumed.”
Gaines doesn’t see the game as being… or encouraging… binge drinking. “It’s often described as a chugging contest, but chugging is not part of the game. Anyone who criticizes what we’re doing (should) come out to an event.”
“Beer Pong is not the problem. In today’s society there’s certainly a problem of underage overconsumption of alcohol, but I would submit if you were to take Beer Pong out, the same issues would still exist.”
Listen to the entire interview with Gaines. (mp3)
Incidentally, on Friday MPR’s All Things Considered looks at the issue of excessive drinking. Are college-age students engaging in more binge drinking, and is this a problem that goes beyond college campuses.