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GOP: America's (Bearded) A-team

February 3, 2009 at 2:16 pm
By Margaret Taylor 2010

“The Beard Auction Drought is Over” the 8 ½ by 11 fliers enthusiastically announced all over campus.  While the message might have been confusing to freshmen, those of us who were here in 2007/8 knew GOP’s second annual beard auction was coming.

GOP isn’t actually a politically affiliated club.  Those letters stand for Gods of Plastic, one of Carleton’s two men’s Frisbee clubs.  Their beard auction is one of the more unusual ways club sports have dreamed up of raising money.  GOP has to share funding with CUT, the other men’s Frisbee team, and always seemed a little short for funding trips to meets.  Last year, the GOP men devised an ingenious solution: turn their facial hair to their advantage.

“GOP’s always promoted the bearded look,” says Frank McNally '09, the team captain.  Their original idea was analogous to one of those run/walks for charity.  That is, you sponsor somebody to run a certain number of miles or kilometers at the walk and the money goes to the charity.  GOP planned to use millimeters of beard.  It didn’t work out so well, but after a term of growing, the GOPmates had a prodigious amount of beard on their faces.  So they auctioned off the privilege to shave it.

It turned out to be a runaway success, which is why the team did it again this year.  The auction is more of a raffle, actually.  In the Sevy Tea Room Friday night, photos of each of the team members were lined up on tables next to red plastic cups that in another context would be used for beer pong.  Prospective donors could buy raffle tickets either before or during the event and bet on the person whose beard they wanted to shave.  And if the GOPmate didn’t have time to grow out a beard, you could shave his head hair.  While the ticket purchasers made their selections, members of the team mingled with the crowd, wearing outrageous Hawaii shirts.  Some of the chin fur up for sale was really quite impressive.  Loud music played on the speakers, including the Daft Punk song that made Austin Hall '10 famous.

That’s not to mention the signs posted with shaving pattern suggestions.  These included beard patterns with names like lose-your-keys, mutton chops, chilly cheeks, the Hyneman, flapwings, and the “Federation Standard,” which is clean-shaven with pointy sideburns.  Whatever crazy pattern you shave (twiddly handlebar moustache, maybe?), the GOPmate has to leave the pattern in for three days.  Many of the ticket-buyers were either other teammates or of the female persuasion.

At 10:15pm the captain announced the first five of the raffle winners.  Razors were handed out and five bearded men lined up to be shorn.  There was no ill-will between the winners and their “patients,” however: they consulted with each other and there was a general air of cooperation.

The money the team raised will go towards funding trips to meets away from Carleton.  GOP won’t be playing at home much in the near future, but look out for the GOP vs. CUT showdown in the spring.

Of the great attendance at the auction on Friday, Frank said, “It’s wonderful seeing this many people involved in GOP.”