Saunders: Time for another debate? Let's play boozeketball!

bsaunders@newsobserver.comApril 27, 2014 


From left, Mark Harris, Heather Grant, Greg Brannon and Thom Tillis during a U.S. Senate debate at Davidson College Tuesday, April 22, 2014.


The college basketball season is over, and football season is still just a rumor at this point. These truly are the doldrums for many sports fans.

What this nation needs is another sport that will tide us over until the first kickoff.

Fret not: Just as Dr. James A. Naismith invented basketball to occupy us through the winter months, I have invented a game to keep us busy during this spring lull. It’s called boozeketball.

Check this out: When you watch the televised debate between Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate nomination Monday night on UNC-TV, you can make it an interactive experience. You won’t need a ball to play this game, just a bottle. Of booze. Preferably 90 proof or stronger.

Red-meat buzzwords

Here’s how you play boozeketball: Every time a candidate snarls one of those red-meat buzzwords, like “Obamacare” instead of the “Affordable Care Act,” you have to take a drink. It’s apparent that any candidate who calls the health care law by its proper name risks having his conservative credentials questioned, if not revoked.

The candidates in the debate are N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, Dr. Greg Brannon of Cary, the Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte and Wilkesboro nurse Heather Grant, the same quartet that participated in two debates last week.

My head was spinning after those debates, and I was as sober throughout them as a Baptist deacon. Make that a Methodist deacon.

It’s a good thing boozeketball hadn’t been invented yet, because we’d all be ready to check into the Betty Ford clinic after that first one. There were innumerable red-meat words belittling the health care law, debunking climate change and attacking those illegal immigrants who are living the life of luxury off SNAP and food stamps.

How do I know they were innumerable? I tried to count them, that’s how.

Doozy of a hangover

Imagine, for instance, having to take a shot of booze every time Thom Tillis said, “Obama and Kay Hagan” – as though the president and the Senate Democratic incumbent were one person. Tillis’ strategy was to focus his attention upon those two, not the three candidates seated beside him, in an obvious effort to show viewers that the trio was of minimal concern to his ambition.

Better yet, if you’d taken a swig of Old Grand-Dad whiskey each time the Rev. Harris invoked the deity or denounced the separation of church and state – he doesn’t believe in it – you’d have had a doozy of a hangover the next morning.

For Monday night’s debate, any time one of them says “conservative,” you have to take a sip. But if a candidate combines that word with “values,” you have to take a full shot.

Other words and phrases that call for imbibing are “job creators,” “entitlements” and “free markets.”

The rules initially called for taking a shot whenever Brannon said the word “Constitution,” “constitutionalist” or any derivative thereof, but the rule had to be changed because otherwise, everybody would be on the floor, comatose, before opening statements were concluded.

The rules also put a three-drink maximum for the words “liberal media.”

Speaking of which, before my GOP pals get exercised and claim they’re being picked on, let’s note that boozeketball can be played with Democratic candidates as well. For instance, if you took a snootful each time a candidate said he or she was “progressive,” when what they really meant was “liberal,” you’d be pretty well soused before the first commercial break.

Oh, so you’re a confirmed teetotaler who’d never take a nip?

Chill, homes. You can still play. To ensure that you’ll never have to hoist a glass to your lips, simply vow to take a drink any time one of the Republican candidates calls President Barack Obama “President Obama” – instead of just “Obama.”

Trust me: The seal on that bottle of Chivas Regal will remain unbroken, and you can give it to me for Christmas.

Saunders: 919-836-2811 or

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