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February 11, 2009

Crisis averted: Beer pong to remain legal in Baltimore

Baltimore state Sen. George W. Della Jr. has caved on an effort to outlaw beer pong and related drinking games in Baltimore bars before the fight even got started.

Email exchanges encouraged beer pong fans to contact Della, who was responding to neighborhood groups concerned about the outflow from bars in Federal Hill and elsewhere in his South Baltimore-based district after long nights of drinking games. Della’s proposed beer pong ban was to have its first legislative hearing on Thursday, but he told the Baltimore Sun’s Sam Sessa today that his is abandoning the push. The pressure is already too great, he said, and he doesn’t need the headache.

Some of the reaction is predictable. Many will ask why this is a topic the General Assembly needs to consider at all. With budget deficits, a health care crisis and global warming, why should lawmakers use any time during their 90 day session to talk about beer pong?

Well, the Assembly considers hundreds of bills a year. Some are broad. Some are narrow. Many are put in the hopper at the request of a constituent. Sessa told me that Della was unaware that many players use water in beer pong cups, rather than alcohol. The senator was open to compromise. Several other states have banned drinking games. Della would not be reinventing the wheel here.

But there seem to be two lessons. First, as Sessa notes, there’s a new political force to be reckoned with in Annapolis, in the beer pong aficionado. And second, heaven help the legislator who gets between a pong player and his (or her) balls.

Posted by David Nitkin at 1:16 PM | | Comments (6)


It's a good thing Senator Della backed down. The problem is not with beer pong and needing to make more laws. The problem is that the laws that are already in existence are not enforced. If someone is drunk and disorderly, they can be arrested. If someone is drunk and decides to drive home, they can be arrested. If someone leaves a bar and decides to urinate on the sidewalk, they can be arrested. There are plenty of laws. You don't solve problems by making more laws. No law can stop stupidity.

Don't mess with Austin and Jim.

"Sessa told me that Della was unaware that many players use water in beer pong cups, rather than alcohol."

Uh, yeah, sure. Unless you mean the designated water cup to "wash" the pong balls after they ditter away across a dirty barroom floor.

I enjoy a good game of pong myself. But damn, wish that "lobby group" cared as much about other regional matters.

GMan -

MDBEERPONG.COM leagues and tournaments in Baltimore use water in all of the cups. We do not fill any cups with beer or anything other than a strange concoction of hydrogen and oxygen.

In regards to any "lobby group" not being involved in other matters you are solely mistaken. As most of us are young professionals many of us take a great interest in politics. The difference, however, is that the ban on beer pong was canned very quickly because it should never have been an issue.

Even if one hundred of us e-mail a senator concerning stem cell research it won't make the same impact as when we do so concerning a local issue that impacts our community.

Any assumptions concerning our lack of empathy for other local issues are unfounded and incorrect.

I just want to thank everyone for all the support. Our position was voiced and it is fantastic that we were heard. Job well done on all sides.

Jim Reiter

What about Harford County??? Why did I hear today that Harford is outlawing it? This sucks!

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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