This is the first in an ongoing series of "Dawg Hacks", columns designed to help you, the members of Bulldog Nation, cope with college sports' most trying situations and dilemmas. Our first one is directed squarely at the members of the University of Georgia football team, though the advice found here is probably useful for anyone who finds himself on the loose in the Classic City. Enjoy.
Dear University of Georgia football player:
If you have been in Athens for any length of time you have likely come to understand, at least in general terms, the distinctive rhythm of summer for college athletes. There will be voluntary workouts. Lifting sessions. A class or two. Pool parties, bars, fawning admirers ogling your biceps (the tank top was a wise choice. Kudos on that). You know what to expect, and we here at Dawg Sports hope that your summer lives up to your expectations.
There are, however, certain things that we Georgia Bulldog fans have also come to expect during the college football offseason. Humidity. Mosquitos. Phil Steele pointing out that one of the two hundred and seven teams he listed last year as "comeback candidates" actually made a bowl. South Carolina fans who believe this is really their year to win an SEC championship.
And arrests. Sadly we expect football players to be arrested. The reasons for this are legion:
- It's summer. College aged men with copious downtime, whether elite athletes or garden variety 19-year-olds, will inevitably fill that time in the stupidest way possible. It is both a biological imperative and a method of natural selection.
- It's Athens. If ever there was a place that was too much fun for its own good, it would be the Classic City. Most everything a young man could want in life is within walking distance of campus. And no one has ever gotten in trouble walking to the bar. It's the walk back through the streets of Athens that gets you, the walk that's always one block too far to avoid detection.
- It's well-patrolled. The Athens-Clarke County authorities are everywhere. Especially when you're too inebriated to be looking for them. But they're looking for you, college athlete. The fact that you happen to be 6'5 and weigh 250 pounds or more makes you, shall we say, easy to spot when you're yelling at the top of your lungs or grabbing for grass to keep yourself from falling off the edge of the Earth as it flies through space because, you know, 50 cent beer.
In light of that, we wanted to take this opportunity to, as the voice of experience, provide you with some sage advice on how not to get arrested in Athens this summer. Much of this is born from painful experience. Some of it is just good ole common sense, the kind that teaches an Auburn fan to pee downwind when relieving himself outdoors.*
Gentlemen, I am pleased to offer you my best tips for avoiding detention, incarceration, and attendant aggravation and humiliation on the mean streets of Athens this summer.
Rule #1: Don't drink. ACC officers can smell alcohol like Tennessee fans can smell lard. Alcohol is a factor in 54% of serious auto accidents, 37% of Arkansas weddings, and 119% of UGA football player arrests. So no alcohol. Just to be safe, you should probably avoid ginger ale too. If you happen to be a Harry Potter fan ixnay on the butter beer as well. You can never be too careful. Don't drink anything except water, and make sure that the water in question doesn't smell in any way off, or funny, or "disrespectful."
Rule #2: Don't borrow anyone's car. Not even your grandmother's. There's something about a college athlete in a car that isn't registered in his own name that sends law enforcement officers into a frenzy. Unless your name is Trent Richardson or Derrick Henry and the officer in question works for the Tuscaloosa P.D. In that case your uncle is a really swell guy for letting you borrow his Escalade.
Rule #3: Stay appropriately licensed at all times. Did you know that you need a currently valid driver's license in order to operate a motor vehicle on the public roads of northeast Georgia? I bet you didn't. Go get that checked on now, but only after you find a licensed driver to drive you to the DMV. We'll wait. . . . .
Okay, glad you're back. I bet you didn't know that there are other things for which you need a license in Athens-Clarke County. There's boating. And running a food truck. But there are others. I'll never forget that time Shaun Chapas got pinched for wearing paisley without a license. So tragic, so avoidable. You can pick up a paisley-wearing license from the current professor of fashion merchandising. Be aware that there is a waiting period.
Rule #4: Drive carefully. About the best way to get arrested in the A-CC as a college football player who isn't intoxicated or unlicensed is to drive any vehicle poorly. Bear in mind that rolling through stop signs is dangerous. To be safe you should stop for at least 15 seconds at all stop signs. If during this period you notice a University or ACC police officer nearby, go ahead and exit your vehicle and ask him or her (respectfully) if you have paused for an appropriate interval. They will appreciate your safety-consciousness.
Rule #5: No scooters!!! Sure, they're inexpensive to purchase, save on gas, park easily, and look great (especially if you're Kevin Breedlove tooling around campus wearing an army helmet). But they're like catnip to Athens-area law enforcement officers. Perhaps the only thing more conspicuous than a tipsy football player leaving a downtown bar is a tipsy football player gingerly piloting a scooter through the streets like the world's biggest Shriner. Don't dare try to pass anyone. EVER.
Instead, consider some of these alternatives: 1) Learn to boot-scootin' boogie. 2) Watch the Muppets. Do 20 pushups every time Scooter appears on screen. Or 3) just call a taxi. But if any fights break out in the taxi do not attempt to break them up.
Rule #6: Arrest, thy name is . . . what again? Know. Your. Name. First, middle, last, great-grandmother's maiden, all of 'em. If an officer does stop you for doing something, whether legal, illegal, or vaguely sophomoric, do not give him a fake name. Sure, it's tempting to tell them you're Ben Dover, Hugh Jass, Pat Mikrotjch, Derek Dooley, or Jeremy Lomax's favor "I.P. Freely", but giving officers the name of a nonexistent individual is never a good idea. They'll eventually figure it out, and worst case, you could accidentally pick a name which actually belongs to someone wanted for a serious crime like murder, embezzlement, or recruiting so badly that it's considered a human rights violation.
Know your own name, and practice saying it in a smooth, nonthreatening, unslurred, and respectful tone.
Rule #7: Avoid the killer weed. Odds are if you are in a car, apartment, restaurant, funeral home, dog house, outhouse, or wash house and there's marijuana around, you're going to get arrested. Even if you don't you're going to be drug tested. In 10 minutes. All of you. So just don't do it. Stick to more socially and bureaucratically acceptable intoxicants like Snickers bars and formaldehyde.
Rule #8: Never leave the house. On second thought, you're probably getting nipped for something even if you follow these rules. Just post on Twitter that you want someone to bring you some Zaxby's (go with the grilled sandwich, extra lettuce, hold the fried pickles) and stay on the couch until tomorrow morning's conditioning session. It's just safer that way.
So there you go, men. Your guide to avoiding embarrassing arrests this summer in Athens. I'll now open up the floor to Dawg Sports commenters, who may have some things to add. Until later . . .
*Most WarTigerPlainsmen learn this essential skill before their eighteenth birthdays, like gazelles learning to run before they can even see. WarPlainsTigerLadies usually develop this skill at least a year earlier.