To Pop Or Not To Pop: That Is The Question

When walking around Colgate’s campus, it’s common to see many students sporting polo shirts of all varieties, brands and colors. Yet there seems to be controversy as to how these popular polo shirts should be worn – collar up or collar down? Colgate’s Debate Society addressed this very issue on Monday in its first debate of the year, a humorous showpiece debate entitled “Popped Collars: To Pop or Not to Pop.”

Sophomore Rob Sobelman was the first debater to speak. Sobelman argued in favor of popped collars, using his five minutes on the stand to present arguments relating to fashion and the socioeconomic benefits of popped collars.

According to Sobelman, “being cool is paramount in your existence.” And to be cool, intuits Sobelman, a popped collar is simply a necessity. As popped collars are a current fashion trend, many associate them with popularity and an increase in social status. “And who doesn’t want more friends, more sex and more significant others?” Sobelman, with a hint of dry humor, asked the audience of Colgate students, some of whom were sporting popped collars themselves.

Additionally, Sobelman equated the popped collar with success not only socially, but financially as well: “Everyone needs a piece of the pie, and you will get a bigger one if you pop your collar!” he said.

Debate Coordinator Miranda Weigler followed up Sobelman’s speech with a tongue-and-cheek, fast-paced speech of her own. Weigler strongly opposed the popping of one’s collar, and said that he who pops his collar is focusing excessively on image and disregarding what college is really about. “People didn’t come to Colgate because they had collars and could put them up or down. We’re here for an education!” Weigler stated.

She pointed out that the two-tier system of those with popped collars and those without is actually inadequate, for that does not include those who dare to forgo the collar entirely. Following looks of disbelief from popped collar advocates, Weigler ended by suggesting that perhaps the real reason people pop their collars has to do with something entirely different than fashion, that they are “making up for certain types of insecurities!”

Weigler’s monologue was followed by senior Mock Trial President Justin McLeod, who also argued in favor of popped collars. He began by referencing Weigler in saying that, in contrast to what she had said, popping one’s collar does not take any additional time in the morning; rather, it saves time because “your collar is already popped when you take it out of the laundry!” Also, although we are at Colgate for an education, he reminded the audience that Colgate has been named a school with one of the best looking student bodies in the country. “If you’re going to come here, you’re going to have to learn how to look good, because we want to keep up our reputation!” McLeod said.

He then addressed the health and safety benefits of popping a polo shirt collar, including the excellent sun protection for the back of the neck and the time saved on sunscreen application. McLeod also remarked that popped collars serve as additional protection in case of windstorms, sandstorms or wolverine attacks (they go for the neck, you know). He closed his statement by gesturing to himself and Sobelman and asking, “Who’s the better looking team today?”

The final argument was given by senior Mikey Carrington, a member of the Debate Society. Carrington urged the audience to “escape the wretched hive of popped-collarness” and the “collar propaganda” that is “polluting” Colgate students. Not only does Carrington think that popped collars cut off the oxygen supply to the brain, but that they might even lead to sexual assaults. Weigler confessed to having been victim of such an assault, in which one unnamed Debate Society member actually attempted to pop her unpopped collar! At that, Carrington closed his speech by reminding those wearers of popped collars that they “look like fools. Put it back down! Make Colgate a beautiful place!”

The speeches were followed by a 10-minute block of audience questions, in which two members of the crowd spoke up with their own opinions. One audience member, in a popped collar shirt himself, said that superheroes and vampires often sport a popped collar, proving just what amazing status and success one can achieve with the help of a little popping. On the other side of the debate, an audience member turned against what he called “collarists,” and reminded everyone that life is not about popped collars, but instead about “the power within.”

Following the closing statements, sophomore Marty Pinnes conducted a vote amongst audience members and members of the Debate Society present for the debate. The “con” side won with two-thirds of the vote, proving that perhaps popped collars may in fact be just a passing trend.

This humorous debate is likely to be the first of many debates dealing with current issues on campus. Pinnes commented that they chose to begin the debate year with a humorous showpiece because they “have members who are talented enough to give a speech with a lot of humor, so we thought we would use their ability to provide an entertaining debate and also show what a debater strives for in a round.” The debate was quite a success, and the skill of the debaters will serve them well as they head to tournaments in Los Angeles; Vancouver, British Columbia; Oxford, England and Dublin, Ireland this semester. Pinnes encourages both those who attended the debate or who “have an interest in public speaking, argumentation or world affairs” to consider joining the Debate Society, “one of Colgate’s most dynamic and well-respected student groups.” Now the question is, did they have to pop their collars to achieve such success?