The St. John’s College and Naval Academy annual croquet match, the country’s biggest collegiate event in the sport, was just hit with some horrible news: You can no longer bring your own alcohol to the match.
Under policies released this year, you will no longer be able to bring your own booze onto St. John’s, the classically liberal school that hosts the event. Instead, you’ll have to buy your own beer, wine and champagne at a cash-only bar. And don’t think about sneaking in your own private stash: Bags and baskets are subject to search.
This is pretty major, since the rite of spring is more about the accompanying lawn party than the actual sport, which very few if any of the attendees actually know how to play anyway.
For the unfamiliar, here’s how it all works: People wear extravagant tweedish outfits, sundresses and floppy hats, smoke tasty cigars and sip wine poured from bottles corked with real corks, champagne that costs at least $8 per bottle, beer that’s made in small batches and doesn’t come from cans and otherwise act sophisticated (unless you write for Scoop Deck and wear old jeans, a band T-shirt and a Camel Bak filled with National Bohemian and sneak cucumber sandwiches from unsuspecting picnickers). Mids, Johnnies, their families, alumni, and men, women and children of all ages from Annapolis and elsewhere come, construct white lawn tents, set out giant spreads of food and make a day out of it. It’s Gatsby-esque.
Meanwhile, while the party continues, the nation’s premier collegiate croquet match goes on in the background. Midshipmen dressed in their white croquet uniforms — they kind of look like milkmen — usually get clobbered by the Johnnies, who unveil a new, usually satirical, uniforms every ear. All the while, the players have their own caddies/butlers who follow them around, holding their drinks on silver platters, wiping the sweat off their brows. In terms of Navy athletics, it’s probably second only to the Army-Navy football game.
Maryland has a recent history banning outside alcohol from important sporting events. The Preakness, proudly the scuzziest of the three legs of the Triple Crown, enacted a similar policy. The people revolted.
Watch out, St. John’s — they may come after you with mallets in hand.