In college towns, most Saturdays are very similar during the fall: wake up, go tailgating, go to the football game, go home, sleep — often in that order.
Tailgating before, during and after a game is as American as diesel trucks and Milwaukee’s Best Ice. It is a ritual that is practiced by so many fans, it has become as important to the experience as booing the opposing players.
Tailgating is not just an excuse to pound warm beer from dirty, used cups. It is a chance to socialize with peers, meet your parents’ important friends and mooch food from your classmates.
However, there is a hypocrisy in college sports that embraces tailgating, while condemning it at the same time.
Fans at Snyder Family Stadium cannot buy beer — or any alcohol — at football games unless they are in a private party — the really good seats. The same is true for basketball games at Bramlage Coliseum.
NCAA rules do not prohibit the sale of such beverages at sporting events, but the practice is not encouraged. Most Big 12 Conference schools do not allow beer sales at games, including Colorado, where more than 40 fans were kicked out of a recent game for alcohol-related violations, according to the Rocky Mountain News.
This is a trend that is expected to spread.
An argument in support of such a ban suggests that since many college students and fans are not 21, they should not be around thousands of foaming cups.
Also, some might say beer sales would reflect poorly on institutions of higher learning. These concerns are understandable, but while the beer itself isn’t in the stadium, its influence and advertising dollars are easily visible.
Companies like Anheuser-Busch and Coors Brewing Company can buy ad space at college stadiums, but a fan cannot buy the featured product. The confusion doesn’t stay in the stadium, either. If a game is televised, networks can sell commercial time to beer companies, especially during the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
According to Rivals.com, on Aug. 8, the NCAA concluded it could not ban beer ads from telecasts, nor could it halt the industry’s influence in college athletics.
The article mentions a number of high-profile college head coaches who support a gradual ban of beer ads from televised college sporting events. Among those coaches are Memphis men’s basketball coach John Calipari and football coaches Bobby Bowden of Florida State, Jim Tressel of Ohio State and Urban Meyer of Florida.
Coaches’ salaries, athletic department revenues and advertising royalties are made possible, in part, because of alcohol producers.
Universities allow beer companies to use logos, likenesses and the names of the schools to sell their product, but selling in venues is out of the question. Athletic departments and university administrators should make up their minds whether alcohol helps college programs or destroys the students who support them.
The status quo is ridiculous and hypocritical and the NCAA and its member institutions should decide which combination of college sports and alcohol, if any, is best.
Owen Kennedy is a senior in management. Please send comments to email@example.com.