Let me first give credit where credit is due and say that the idea for this article came from CBSsports.com’s own Dennis Dodd in his reflection on Oliver Luck’s comments regarding his hopes for alcohol sales in the West Virginia football stadium. Dodd’s article can be read HERE.
Essentially what Luck’s argument was is that by making alcohol available to fans at West Virginia during the game inside the stadium, they can keep fans from running out to their cars, tents, etc. at halftime to throw down 3-4 more beers before the 2nd half. That by having alcohol inside the stadium, they can “control” the fans better and limit the excessive drinking that goes on outside the stadiums.Lets get a few facts out of the way before I proceed any further. I am 22 years old, obviously legally allowed to drink, go to a school who would fit the type of scenairio Oliver Luck is proposing with Clemson’s large football crowds and tailgates, and I like to drink. So with that said, let me say that I think there are far more problems with this proposal than there is good that can come from it.
Lets address the main arguments being made from the side proposing this concept being implemented:
1) It would reduce the amount of alcohol being consumed upon entrance to the stadium
No it really wouldn’t. Does restricting people from going out to their cars at halftime to drink by refusing them re-entrance work? Probably. But that just means people will drink more before they come in. Any college kid in America or any adult who was socially active in their 20′s during college knows what pre-gaming is. It’s a commonly practiced ritual nation-wide at thousands of campuses and universities. In fact, it’s common practice for professional sports fans as well. Consider that if a Coke cost $2 on average lets say at a college stadium, hot dog maybe $3, how much do you think a beer will cost? Even if it’s not as expensive as it would be at a pro sporting event, odds of it being less than $5 are slim to none.
Now, show me a college kid who doesn’t know how to maximize his drinking money, and I’ll show you a college kid who isn’t the kid to ask for advice on weekend activities. College kids know the value of their buck and will do the smart thing. 2-3 kids (legal or underage) will split a 30 rack (case for you southerners), put those down, and be ready to go “nice” into the game. Why buy 6 $5 beers when you can split a 30 of Natural Light for $17? All this would do is make kids drink more before they enter the stadium than they would if they knew they could come out at halftime. They aren’t going to go broke at the stadium. They’ll figure out ways to drink before the game. Maybe they start drinking earlier. Maybe they just drink beers faster. But if they’re going to be stuck inside without being able to walk out and come back, they’re not going to be sobering up by the 3rd quarter. They’re going to go hard to start.
2) It Will Help Limit Underage Drinking
First and foremost, I’m not even sure how you can try and restrict underage drinking on campus. I’m not saying we should allow ice luges at the entrance of freshman dorms, but it’s an uphill battle for any enforcement group to try and control. Now, what’s not news to anyone is that at the majority of these football tailgates at schools across the country, underage drinking is happening. If it means Vodka in a water bottle, mixing it with something, or the red cup, there’s ways for minors to hide it. Now Luck is of the belief that by selling alcohol in the stadium, it will work because minors will not be able to buy inside, so once a minor is inside, they’re done drinking regardless.
This would be blindly ignoring the fact that as Dodd quoted in his article, John Spraggins, a former WVU linebacker noted ” They’ll just have somebody older buy for them”. What’s to stop a 21 year old from buying for his 20 year old friend? Some say “well we can limit it to one beer per customer”. Then he just goes to another vendor after he returns with the first beer. Now you’re going to have enforcement having to pay attention to whether or not the students are drinking the beers they return with or passing them off.
Also, fake I.D’s are already a common practice for many college students. Almost any of you who have been to enough professional sporting events can recall a time where you missed game action because you were busy waiting in line at the concession line. In college events, the lines can still be very lengthy and hectic at halftime and during TV timeouts. And all of that is without the concern of minors buying alcohol. What happens when 15 sorority sisters get in line to buy Bud Light and 11 of them are legal, 4 are underage but have their fake I.D’s? Each of them has to have their I.D checked, maybe confirmed by a book if it looks suspicious, and meanwhile the line is growing and growing.
Students are often working these concession stands as well. In general, what would probably happen is adults would work the alcohol stand, but we’d be naive to think a college student, perhaps covering for someone’s bathroom run or something, would never be put in the situation of serving beer, even for a couple people. You really think that kid is going to deny the girl in his freshman chem class who he stares at all lecture a cup of beer? No chance. He’s going to fill that thing to the brim, smile, and watch her walk away for 5 minutes before he realizes there’s 50 people still in line.
3) It Will Make For a Better Game Watching Experience
“We don’t have control right now. We’re bringing a measure of control into the stadium that we ultimately think will help improve the atmosphere and, quite honestly, generate a few dollars. I’m not denying that.”
These are the words straight from the horse’s mouth, Oliver Luck himself.
College events as a whole have to deal with the likelihood of out of control drunk college kids. We’ll use any excuse to party and drink. “Women’s Swim Team has a meet tonight? Let’s get hammered and go cheer!” So you take college football, the biggest college sport in the country, and there’s going to be drinking anyway you cut it.
And with this fact comes the common understanding that students will occasionally get rowdy and cause issues. So now on top of that we want to put beer into their hands at the games?
Every Saturday in College Football season, or every “Big Monday” on ESPN for College Hoops season, you’ll see the cameras go over the crowd and focus on the student section. Whether it’s the Cameron Crazies, Alabama’s student section waving their crimson and white confetti, or Texas A&M’s 12th man swaying, the setting and sight is one we can all picture.
Now picture the crowd scene with kids holding plastic cups and kids chugging beer on camera. Imagine the outcry from parents, school officials, etc. the first time a noticeably drunk student is double-fisting Budweiser in the stands. Imagine the first time a student who is discovered to be underage gets alcohol poisoning and the adults sitting near that student confirm that the student had been drinking beer from the stadium throughout the game and nobody noticed who was providing it.
Who will take responsibility when this acts? How many lawsuits will come from these incidents? How long will colleges and universities be able to continue selling alcohol before it becomes just another argument that they’re all about money?
Now, let me state that this isn’t something that I’m overly passionate about. To be honest, I don’t really care if this becomes the norm. I’m not some anti-drinking extremist who’s going to be standing outside college stadiums with “No Drinking” signs when this action is put in place. It’s not very high on my list of concerns.
I’m just being honest about it all and stating that if it does happen, I anticipate far more problems will come out as a result of this than “positive changes” like Oliver Luck would like us to believe.
Frankly, I’ll be graduated and out of college before this ever becomes accepted at Clemson University, if it ever even would in fact. So this really doesn’t even apply to me and I’m not advocating against it.
Given the choice to have it in Death Valley this upcoming season for my senior year, if I had any say in it, I like most students I believe, would ask “Where Do I get in line?”…..
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