It's drinking, betting, drinking some more, and paying very little attention to the game. And at 9 p.m. every Monday night in the fall, television sets across the University tune into a tradition that has become as American as apple pie. Monday Night Football events are ubiquitous both on and off campus. In the bars, fraternities, and dormitory rooms, students can be found with friends watching, drinking, and betting on the game. To some, the evening represents a break from the Monday monotony that plagues them after recovering from the weekend excitement. To others, the night is the perfect opportunity to let loose and fill their stomachs with everything from cold beer to hot dogs. However, the game itself often must take a back seat to the rituals behind the event. Many students across the University choose to patronize bars during the evening. One of the more popular sporting scenes, Barley and Hops on the 3900 block of Walnut Street, is jumping with students and area residents who are not only watching the game, but "experiencing" it. Mitch, a college sophomore, explained last Monday that virtually all bars have televisions tuned to football, but said he prefers a warm, friendly atmosphere to view the game. "Every week I come to Barley and Hops," he said. "It's sort of a tradition. I honestly feel at home here." However, the reasonfor many students' exodus to Barley and Hops isn't as nostalgic as Mitch's -- their hunger pangs provide the motivating force. Barley and Hops offers free chicken wings and hot dogs on Monday nights. "I come here [to Barley and Hops] usually, but don't pay much attention to the game," College junior Chris Olsen said. "I come to consume wings in bulk. . . that's about 40 wings. . . and I drink a couple of pitchers [of beer]." Regardless of their immense appetites for free food, University students flock to the bars in unusual patterns, said Sue McDonough, a waitress at Barley and Hops. She added that she looks forward to the crowds and noise the games bring. But the game is only half of the experience according to some bar managers. Smokey Joe's Tavern says that the 40th Street bar is the best place to go after the game, touting their "open mike night" where students can sing along with music. "Football, shmootball, it's open mike night," sums up Smokey Joe's manager Paul Ryan. Chili's Restaurant and Bar promotes a more diverse crowd of football fans from area schools. College senior Jill Ward, said "It's a chance to gather and hang out with kids from Penn, Temple, and Drexel, a chance to see them since during the week you don't get a chance." Other students said that they just use the evening to get together with friends. Added Lauren Horowitz, a College and Wharton junior, "I come, I hang out, it's relaxing." But while there are many who spend their dollars on alcohol, an integral part for many students is trying to multiply their money either through pools, Atlantic City point spreads, and poker games. Wharton freshman Jeff Smith runs a Monday Night Football poker game in various Quadrangle rooms. Like many students, he found that the games were rarely exciting enough to merit undivided attention. "We're bored most of the time," Smith said. "The game is not interesting so we do something to keep us busy." As with all vices, some people go beyond the casual level. Wharton sophomore Mike Brown dismisses the traditional low-stake pools altogether, going for a higher stakes bet. "I'm not in pools," he said. "I'm in with a bookie. [I bet] about $100 a game. . . about six games a week. I lost $300 Saturday and won $400 Sunday." Dan Forman, a College sophomore, said he prefers a more casual betting atmosphere not just for the more moderate wagers, but also for the priceless opportunity to gloat. "I usually bet among friends, $5 a game," Forman added. "I've lost $20 on occasion. . . .Usually [I do] one-on-one bets because it's more personal and you can rag on your friends." Like gambling, drinking has become synonomous with Monday Night Football. However, select groups have even developed beer games to enhance the often dull event on television. Although many students point to the traditional drinking games, including Quarters, a few have developed their own beer sport agenda for the Monday night ritual. College sophomore Mike Alfano said: "If it's at a bar most people will be playing drinking games. You pick a team and when the opposing team scores you have to chug seven. . . " The stakes are often increased when a friend's favorite team is competing. Alfano explained another game called "Stupid Statistic." "When [the announcers] say something like, teams are leading in outdoor stadium in November in the second quarter 'x' percentage of the time -- you have to take a 'social [drink].' " Although countless games and special sales have been developed to justify the drinking, Steve Wall, a junior in the College, said that students don't need these extra motivations. "We drink to football," Wall said.Comments powered by Disqus
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