With the news that N.C. State’s Board of Trustees unanimously passed a vote to revise its policy in allowing alcohol to be sold at campus arenas and stadiums on Wednesday afternoon, it got me thinking about the ramifications of such a policy.
Before I get to my point, let me preface by saying that N.C. State is not the only North Carolina-system public University to make such a change. UNC-Chapel Hill had already revised its policy to allow the purchase of alcoholic beverages at Kenan Memorial Stadium. East Carolina and UNC-Charlotte could soon follow suit at their respective stadiums.
It’s worth noting that UNC Pembroke is the only public University in the state that has firmly said no to such a policy, according to the Durham Herald Sun (UNC Greensboro is still debating selling alcoholic beverages at off-campus venues but will not do so on campus).
As a 23-year-old fresh out of UNC-Chapel Hill, I won’t pretend to say that I don’t understand the excitement over such a policy allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages at campus venues. As someone who has enjoyed drinking a cold beer on a warm day at a Durham Bulls game, I understand how one could be excited about such a change in policy. But I don’t understand drinking in excess at any sporting event. If you are planning to get drunk while watching a game, do it at a sports bar where you aren’t surrounded by families with children and people who paid money to enjoy a game.
Having been to plenty of college sporting events where fights have broken out, I think the idea of adding alcohol to the mix is a bad idea.
I remember attending a UNC-N.C. State football game when I was about 7 years old in Chapel Hill. The details of the contest aren’t very important, mostly because both teams were fairly average. The best player on UNC was a kicker — Connor Barth — so it wasn’t like North Carolina was competing for ACC supremacy.
What I do remember is there were multiple fights that broke out during the game, especially in the second half; when it was obvious it was going to be a one-possession game down to the wire.
That was the first time I saw fighting break out at a sporting event, but it wasn’t the last.
I’ve seen it happen at college basketball games and college football contests. I was at the ECU-UNC football game last September when fans of both teams broke out into at least one fight. The violence led to a spectator falling down several rows in the bleachers, an incident that was visible to me even as I sat on the opposite side of the stadium high up in the press box.
The worst fan incident I ever encountered, though, was at Madison Square Garden during the 2008 Big East Championship between Pittsburgh and Georgetown. As was the case with most Big East basketball games, it was a sloppy affair filled with rough play and missed shots.
But the most memorable part of the night was seeing a fan, clearly inebriated, screaming and cursing in the stands. With one hand holding a beer and the other operating a rude gesture in the direction of the crowd, he was making such a scene that he was kicked out of the arena. Before he was escorted out of his seat by security officials, I remember him even yelling at someone who was on his side in the argument. He was so inebriated he didn’t seem to notice.
The difference between that game and the two other contests I mentioned was alcoholic beverages were sold at Madison Square Garden. Whether or not this is true, I believe that alcohol likely escalated that man’s anger. Perhaps alcohol escalated the anger at the football games, too, since I saw many people tailgating prior to kickoff at both events.
My point with all of these words is I think selling alcoholic beverages at college sporting events could be a bad idea. I love sports. Heck, most of my life revolves around checking ESPN and figuring out which top recruit went where and who is teaming up with whom in the NBA. But I think mixing alcohol in a stadium with rowdy fans, many of them college students, already pitted against each other might turn ugly.
It’s bad enough seeing spectators screaming at players and other fans as they bait each other into direct confrontation. It isn’t just annoying, it can affect one’s ability to pay attention to the game — you know, the reason why you paid money to be there. Now imagine how much worse that could be when adding alcohol to the equation.
Like I noted before, there are many children that attend college sporting events with their families. Some of my favorite childhood memories took place at Kenan Memorial Stadium, or the Smith Center. The same can be said for countless other kids. There’s no reason to have those experiences ruined by rowdy drunk fans. If you’re going to drink to excess, go online and search for the best sports bars near you. But don’t drink obnoxiously at a college sporting event in front of families and people who paid money to enjoy the game, and not to listen to the fight breaking out in section 204 by two fans who are on their fifth cold one.