Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Tuesday, April 23
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion editorial

Let's talk about Little 500

Get out of town for Little 500

Every year since 1951, it has been a tradition for thousands of people to gather around a track that is too small to watch bikers race. 

Some attendees do not know anyone in the race, but this tradition draws in thousands of viewers.

Freshmen who know nothing of the history of the Little 500 race go to just get a taste of what it is like to be at IU. 

Students from other universities often come to experience the IU party scene and the race. 

Likewise, many students here simply use the entire week as an excuse to party.

But I think we don't need to succumb to the pressure of others just to attend a hot, crowded event which most people don't watch.

I think this weekend should be a getaway — an escape, if you will — from the mayhem that comes from this race. 

It may be an escape for safety from the higher levels of danger, which may come from the increased number of people drinking on campus.

It may be an escape for peace of mind just before finals.

This escape could lead to a more productive dead week, especially because you wouldn't have to suffer from a hangover Monday. 

Or this getaway may just be an escape to be with friends — just like Little 500 is supposed to be.

You can pass time with the friends doing things that are just as much fun as this race seems to advertise. 

Little 500 weekend all in itself ought to be seen as a vacation weekend spent however you want it to be spent. 

But I am saying that no one ought to be pressured into the participation of the races themselves. Get out of here and enjoy yourselves. 

Bars shouldn't charge cover on Little 500 weekend

When college students think of Little 500, most of them think about partying first and racing second. Despite the weekend being dedicated to the race aspect of the event, the weeklong drinking festival that comes before the races is what is remembered the most — that is, if you remember any of it.

From house parties and day parties to the bars and tailgating before the races, many people will be finding a way to drink this weekend.

Because of this, I think it would be great to see Bloomington take advantage of this phenomenon and find a way to give discounts to those who partake in Little 500 activities.

For example, the bars on Kirkwood Avenue and the Courthouse Square will certainly profit off IU students, and their families or friends from out of town. Even if all bars were to give a small discount on drinks throughout the weekend, I believe they would see an increase in sales. 

Not only are the bars intimidating because of the mass gathering of people, but with most of the festivities happening between Thursday and Sunday — when drink prices are usually not discounted — students are reluctant to go to the bars and stick to parties instead.

And while bars may not be the safest places during Little 500, they still offer some protection that house parties do not, such as knowing what you are drinking.

Because of this, I think bars should lower drink prices throughout Little 500.  

Little 500 is as fun as you make it

Little 500 is referred to as the greatest college weekend in America, and I wouldn’t have any problems with this description if it weren’t for the fact that it seems almost everyone on campus loses their minds.  

There are plenty of great things about Little 500. The riders’ dedication to their sport is impressive, the fans’ enthusiasm is exciting and the races raise a lot of money for student scholarships. 

But surrounding all of those wonderful things is an aura of crazy which I just can’t get behind. 

This is not to say I don’t like going out with friends during Little 500. I love a good house party as long as things don’t get out of hand. 

However, things getting out of hand seems to be the inevitable result of Little 500 festivities. Because of this, I can’t help but wish we’d all focus a little more on truly keeping up a culture of care than on pushing every possible limit. 

Plenty of students are uncomfortable with the atmosphere in Bloomington during race weekend, and with good reason. It’s hard to feel at ease when you’re surrounded by party culture in its most intense form. 

For all of our sakes, even those who aren't bothered by the hysteria, I fully believe we could all enjoy ourselves more if we scaled back just a little bit and took better care of each other.

Actually expecting college kids to commit to these limits probably sounds completely naive, and I’ll admit that it is very unlikely. It’s not impossible, though, and we would all be better off and able to enjoy the weekend.

Go sober for this year's Little 500 weekend 

Excessive alcohol use kills approximately 88,000 people in the United States each year, and U.S. consumers spend roughly $249 billion per year. A recent study published in the journal The Lancet showed consuming more than one drink each day, or more than 100 grams of alcohol a week, increases your risk of death from fatal hypertensive disease, aortic aneurysm, heart failure and stroke. 

Consume more than 200 grams of alcohol per week and your life expectancy begins to drop significantly, potentially by more than a year. One scientist on the study said the health risks of consuming alcohol over the 100 gram limit was, for a 40-year-old, comparable to those of smoking. 

I support the Little 500 race as an important philanthropic event and I greatly appreciate the athleticism and camaraderie of the IU cycling community. Since the first race in 1951, the IU Student Foundation has given more than $2 million in scholarships to undergraduates.  

But I cannot support the culture of alcoholism the race weekend perpetuates. 

According to National Institutes of Health research, each year, around 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report assault by another student who has been drinking, and around 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.

Alcohol industry groups have also been accused of obfuscating or downright denying the links between alcohol consumption — even in moderate amounts — and cancers such as breast and esophageal cancers. 

The lives of thousands of infants are also affected each year due to alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The American Academy of Pediatrics says no quantity of alcohol consumption during pregnancy should be considered safe, and recent research has shown that even before conception, maternal and paternal alcohol consumption can have negative effects on fetal health. 

There are other ways to have fun and be social this weekend, IU. Don't rely on alcohol to have a good time.

Get stories like this in your inbox