While looking for an interesting topic to write about, I searched for birthdays and events that occurred this day, October 7th. In my search I found something that made me laugh. On October 7, 1714, there was a riot because of a beer tax in Alkmaar, Netherlands.
I wondered, are there other riots related to beer? The answer: yes.
In 1844, during the early days of May, the people of Bavaria rioted against a beer tax levied upon them by King Ludwig I. Order was only restored after the King lowered the price of beer by 10%. This wasn't the first time a government official had to concede defeat.
In 1855, the mayor, Levi Boone, decided to renew enforcement of an old law and mandated that taverns be closed on Sundays. He didn't stop there, he also raised the price of a liquor license from $50 to $300 a year. Clearly, he was insane. The relative worth of $50 in 1855 would be over $1000 today! So a liquor license of $300 would be worth about $8,000! Which is absurd because a liquor license for a tavern in contemporary Chicago is only $4,400, or approximately $160 in 1855.
His greedy decision (probably one borne out of "Know-Nothing" ideas) caused the Lager Beer Riot. One Sunday, some tavern owners, largely German immigrants, were caught selling beer and were arrested. This spun into a spar between the police and protesters. At one point the mayor ordered the swing bridges to be opened in order to prevent more protesters from crossing the river. This left some people trapped on the Clark Street Bridge, where police opened fire over the Chicago river.
After 1 death, 60 arrests and 1 year later, Levi Boone was turned out of office and the prohibition was repealed.
Beer has been the basis for more than just riots, it was also the setting for an attempted coup d'etat by Hitler. (Not to mention the fact it also happened in Bavaria and this is the third time I mentioned Germans and beer riots.) Known as the Beer Hall Putsch (putsch means coup) or Munich Putsch. In November of 1923, Hitler and his loyal followers marched to a beer hall in Munich. They were attempting to overthrow the government by trapping an important figure, Gustav Ritter von Kahr, who was addressing a crowd of 3000 people. Hitler and the 600 members of the Nazi party surrounded the beer hall. Interestingly, despite being able to rile the crowd in his favour, Hitler was unsuccessful. He was arrested and sentenced to 5 years in prison, however he was released after only 9 months.
Then there's the very well known Prohibition that took place from 1920-1933 in the United States. The reactionary measures of a few morally conscious people caused the birth of bootlegging and speakeasies. That period in the U.S. was rife with criminal behaviour. From the swinging '20s to the dirty '30s. Although I can't help but notice how after the market crashed in 1929 and the great depression occurred, it didn't take too long for them to repeal that decision. It seems that people just needed a good, stiff drink.
The last one I discovered, was the funniest. June 4, 1974, Cleveland stadium enticed fans to attend a baseball game between the Cleveland Indians and the Texas Rangers by offering 10 cent beer. That is CHEAP, no matter what year! Over 25,000 people showed up to the game! However, during the 9th inning, a fan attempted to steal a hat from the Texas outfielder, Jeff Burroughs. Burroughs tripped and this instantly sparked the Texas manager to order his team on to the field with bats swinging. Inevitably, this caused the inebriated crowd to start attacking as well. Who knew cheap beer and lots of people was a bad idea?
In short - beer has been a reason to start riots, attempt coups, and grandstand political, moral or economical ideals. Not to mention just behaving badly. BEER! Hey, I still love it. It's delicious.
Has anyone read this story? Are you familiar with what's happening? Well apparently four pairs of female Badminton doubles players are being charged with "not using one's best efforts to win a match"*. The World Badminton Federation (who knew such a thing existed) has decided to launch disciplinary proceedings against the eight players from China, South Korea and Indonesia. The doubles pairs were scheduled to compete today, but now it's unclear what will happen. To give an example, the longest rally in one game was only four strokes! The audience watching actually booed! To sum up, they are accused of trying to throw matches in order to manipulate their position. China's and South Korea's doubles pairs didn't want to meet their teammates in the semi-finals.
One of the South Korean coaches blames China, claiming that it was their strategy first. Honestly, it's all a little silly. I can't help but think that there are probably many instances of athletes not trying hard enough but they never went through any disciplinary proceedings. Still, the issue has come up and it's left me wondering, is attempting to lose a legitimate strategy?
If you were a professional athlete selected to compete in the Olympics and made it to the quarter-finals then found out you might have to play against your own country, what would you do? I think most people would be tempted. Still, this strategy defeats the whole purpose of the Olympics. It crushes the Olympic spirit.
Personally I don't think that the players should be disqualified. Perhaps it's not necessarily in the "Olympic spirit" but they got to their positions by playing well, did they not? How can one evaluate how hard someone is trying anyway? Despite the accused lack of effort, is it really their fault if they found a way to make it work to their advantage? If anything, I blame the game itself. It doesn't make sense to me that at any point two teams from the same country should have to face each other. I think it causes this precise conundrum.
Conundrums aside, the London 2012 Summer Olympics have been exciting and awe-inspiring. It is our duty as citizens of the world to watch the Olympics and cheer for our country! So here's to Canada! Congratulations to Christine Girard in Weightlifting, Antoine Valois-Fortier in Judo; Jennifer Abel and Emilie Heymans in Women's Synchronized 3m Diving, and Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion in Women's Synchronized 10m Diving!
*If you want to know the full story, you can read it on the BBC, CBC and The Globe and Mail.
Update: The Badminton players were disqualified.
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