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On most days, I love the North American Central Time Zone. Being sandwiched in the middle of EST and PST has a bunch of benefits, most importantly that primetime sports viewing doesn’t run to an ungodly hour of the night (read: midnight) on most occasions.
As a Badgers alum and general Big Ten fan, however, my love for the CST wanes at certain times. Yes, it’s great for night games and for ensuring that your Saturday nap/pass-out aligns with the start of ESPN’s primetime game, but it also has a big pitfall: the ominous, oft-maligned 11 a.m. CST kickoff time that accompanies many B1G games of minor importance (which typically means most of the B1G West matchups and those involving any other team not named Ohio State or Michigan. Then again, kicking off before noon also lets you channel your early college self and mix whiskey into your coffee. It’s a slippery slope, and I have a very love/hate relationship with it.
This Saturday, I’ll make my first pilgrimage of the season to the best Badger bar in Chicago: Will’s Northwoods. Unsurprisingly, I’ve been looking forward to that first 32oz stadium cup of Miller Lite for a few weeks now. It’s a decadent sliver of freedom amongst a wave of responsibilities and obligations. It also tends to occur early in the morning. How early? Many people will mosey up to the bar around 10 a.m., which means you might be two to three drinks deep before your offense even touches the ball.
While that idea is great in principle, it can get especially dicey in practice. For instance, if you’re a light eater in the morning, you might be offered shots of Jameson with little more than coffee — or Irish coffee — in your stomach. And God help you if you went out the night before and have already committed to pulling up to your favorite alum bar an hour before a pre-noon game. Not only will you most likely miss the deadline, but you’ll also show up remiss of any self care or hangover-curing routine that you typically put yourself through on a Saturday morning as you rush out the door sans shower.
If you’re able to make it smoothly to kickoff, your day typically goes in one of two directions. You’re most likely going to be heavily buzzed by noon regardless of how your team is playing, and this will lead to either a beautiful day of day drinking or a vicious impending blackout. I’ve found that the best strategy is to stick to one alcohol, pound bar popcorn, and avoid shots like the plague. If you do that and show some type of moderation, you should be feeling alright. You’ll get to fully enjoy the pure bliss of an early afternoon sun as you joyfully watch your team cover the spread, which is truly one of the best parts of watching college football.
But despite my rock-solid strategy going in, I still always struggle with not going overboard. When the wheels get moving on the day-drinking train it’s hard to stop, especially as the buzz starts to hit harder due to the lack of solid food in your stomach. The best way to keep things at an easy pace and make sure you make it to the end of the game is to mix in a few waters and whatever kind of grease bomb that your local bar serves; I opt for the cheese curds at Will’s. That said, it doesn’t really matter how you plan for things, as all roads eventually lead to a *hopefully* peaceful afternoon pass-out where you wake up just in time for whatever ACC primetime game ESPN has airing. Yeah, the chances of going out that night are probably close to zero, but it’s all worth it when you look back at the full day of partying you had.
And while I might complain about the 11 a.m. kick from time to time, deep down I know I love the excuse to act like I’m in college again and drink before noon. It’s a wonderful feeling. Unfortunately, as we age, it also comes with added consequences — so drink strategically. Cheers!.