Under the influence of beer pong

The aromas of warm beer and sweat fill the air as loud cheers regularly erupt from a corner of the party. People rejoice as one team loses, and another team rushes to play against the winners. The festive and joyful atmosphere is the result of a game of beer-pong—a university classic.

Beer pong, also known as “Beirut,” is a timeless party game. All it requires is plastic cups, ping-pong balls, a table, and an endless supply of beer. The game can easily be played in teams of one, two, or more—friends and strangers alike.

A game of beer-pong is also a great way to meet new people. Whether you cannot aim correctly to save your life or you make your shot every time, you’ll either be congratulated by other drunk newbies or receive some well-needed tips from veterans. 

Just like in other popular games like UNO, players often vehemently disagree about the rules. However, most have a general understanding of its basic tenets: Your shot doesn’t count if your elbow is past the table, and you can ask for the cups to be rearranged during the game. Common disagreements include whether the other team is allowed to blow on the ball to get it out of the cup, how many balls are allowed during a rebuttal, and whether it counts if a ball bounces before it lands in a cup.

Many around campus consider themselves beer pong aficionados and routinely play the game during parties. Marie Delivre, U2 Arts, explained why beer pong is the perfect party activity in an interview with The McGill Tribune.

“For me, beer pong is a must-have for any college party,” said Delivre. “It can fulfill so many aspects of having a good party in a single game. Having a beer pong table is an instant facilitator to make friends or drinking buddies. Anyone can join and play as it is a rather easy game with simple rules.”

Anyone who has attended parties involving beer pong has witnessed how viciously competitive it can become. During these games, where the fate of your honour and pride are vested in the bounce of an orange ping-pong ball, the ups and downs can bring out a lot of emotion. Octavio Gamet, a U2 Arts student, describes himself as one such fierce competitor.

“I love beer pong because it allows me to get drunk while at the same time being able to play a competitive game,” Gamet said in an interview with the Tribune. “When in teams, it creates a group spirit, so we can either win together and scream our heart out when claiming victory, or lose together and get wasted. A single game is such an emotional roller coaster as any ball thrown has an impact on the game.”

Beer pong is a game for all. Everyone has to start somewhere and other players are welcoming to all levels of talent. 

“A lucky beginner can always have a shot at victory, so the game is not exclusive to students who have experience playing,” Delivre said.

The topic of experience brings about the age-old debate of whether beer pong is a game of luck or a game of skill. U1 Engineering student Benjamin* argues that the game takes a bit of both, and that a little alcohol always helps. 

“Beer pong definitely requires skill,” Benjamin said. “I’ve noticed a huge improvement in my games ever since I started playing more, so I’m sure there is a correlation. However, there is also a fair amount of luck involved.” 

But not all success comes down to skill, according to Benjamin.

“The game also needs you to believe in yourself and not be psyched out by the other team. Yet, I’m sure that the biggest impact on performance is not due to skill or luck, but rather due to the amount of alcohol consumed,” he said.

When playing your next game of beer pong, remember that you are participating in one of the greatest traditions of higher education. And whether you attribute your talent to luck or skill, remember to keep your elbows behind the table.

*Benjamin’s name has been changed to preserve his anonymity.

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