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Daily Dish: Time to Update Antiquated Alcohol Laws? Junior Hockey News

Published: Monday, 8 Jun 2020  
By: Stephen Heisler,

Everything about the United States stands for freedom, the image of our young soldiers and athletes parading victoriously has been embedded into the world's consciences. Well that same world is laughing at us because we have the most ridiculous alcohol laws known to mankind. 

Back in 1984: Mothers Against Drunk Drivers influenced the passing of the federal National Minimum Legal Drinking Act (MLDA), raising the legal drinking age to 21 years old nationwide. This law restricts people under the age of 21 from purchasing or publicly consuming alcohol. As a result, young adults have been forced to go underground in an effort to enjoy a few beers, and that was an embarrassing mistake.

Is the age of majority 18 or 21? It's time to repeal the ridiculousness of it all. If we can't trust them to responsibly consume a beer until 21, why are they able to drive a vehicle, vote, and make other adult choices at age 18? Maybe these young people should push the issue and demand moving everything to 21 if that's what the nation wants. Let the costs of college be up the the parents to take care of. Force parents to get their no-longer-an-adult child to and from school. They should not work until 21 either...why should they?  

How ridiculous did all of that sound?

Japan limits sale and consumption to individuals 20 years and older, but aside from Muslim countries, the rest of the world allows adults to make adult decisions. An eighteen year-old can vote, buy a house, go to war, or even make a pornographic movie with machines and farm animals, but he or she cannot buy or get caught drinking a beer? This simply does not make any sense.

As with any substance that has a likelihood of being abused, alcohol consumption has social and health costs. Misuse can lead to inappropriate behaviors, diseases of the respiratory system, accidents caused by fire, drowning, suicides, and homicides. At the same time soft drinks, and fast food, also has made a negative impact on our nation's health. Are we getting ready to shut down McDonald's?

Alcohol consumption also increases tax revenues, has some health benefits, as well as the enjoyment that the responsible consumption brings to adults. Studies have shown that just because there may be no laws, or a younger legal age, to consume alcohol does not necessarily mean that there will be more deaths occurring. In fact, countries without a legal drinking age have lower death rates than those with a higher drinking age. Underage drinkers are more likely the ones to consume alcohol in a way that is immature or heavily, also known as binge drinking, which causes more deaths than a drink or two in a controlled environment.

These issues can be seen as a way to rebel or be shown as a symbol of adulthood. In the countries with no legal drinking age, or younger drinking ages, alcohol can be seen as normal, and therefore can be done in an appropriate manner. Some arguments state that normalizing alcohol will decrease death rates, binge drinking, and underage drinking. Specifically, the United States government labels alcohol in the same category as drugs, which could lead to the actual use of drugs.

Choose Responsibility is a non-profit organization in the United States that promotes public awareness of the dangers of excessive and reckless alcohol consumption by young adults. The main goal is to lower the minimum drinking age by educating the public. It was founded and is directed by Dr. John McCardell, Jr., president emeritus of Vermont's Middlebury College.

Choose Responsibility has examined many industrialized societies with drinking ages less than 21 but scientifically measured to have more responsible drinking habits than Americans. The organization believes that current drinking laws "infantilize" young adults and promote immature behaviors. Therefore, it promotes public policies that it believes would empower young adults age 18 to 20 to make mature decisions about the place of alcohol in their own lives.

Many of our nation' s colleges and university leaders have openly supported the initiatives of the Choose Responsibility organization. In July 2008, over 100 college presidents across the United States went public with the call for a reconsideration of the drinking age law.

Like most things in life, an individual's behavior can be traced right back to parenting. My daughter Sonia is now almost fifteen years old. For the most part, she is an angel. Why? Because the way she is being raised. We continuously install core values and principles into our children's lives.

Our son Tomas is an entirely different story. He has been a joyful challenge to us, and to his sister. From the time he was just two years-old, we have been able to teach Tomas to make the right choices. He also understands there are consequences for making the wrong ones.

My wife Deysi is very soft spoken, loving, and leads by example. In the rare occurrence that there is a discipline issue with either child, I step into the situation and simply have a one on one talk with them. We go over the issue, the behavior, and come up with a solution together to make a better decision. It is amazing how smart kids can be.

We all have the freedom of choice. It is the values we learn as children that directs those choices. Our government spends entirely too much time trying to manage the people and needs to spend more time representing us. Is it time for our country to fully restore the rights of adults to make adult decisions?

I think so.

Is it time that we catch up with the rest of the world and face the realities of freedom? Is it time that we take back the freedoms that we have allowed the government to take away? Is it time that a eighteen year-old hockey player has the right to enjoy a few beers with his buddies after a game? Absolutely.  We did, why shouldn't they be able to as well?

Author: Stephen Heisler from
Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Stephen is also working with individual teams, coaches, and players as a director with Victorious Hockey Company. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.

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