Friday, October 23, 2009

Can "They" Kill Tailgating?

In as much as the Student Body followed my advice and did not attend the Deleware State game, it was obvious that a lot of other "newbies" found free tickets from friends or family and went free of charge to the Massacre known as Michigan vs. DSU. Yes, they were claiming that the 100,000 sellout record was intact, but I would have liked to see the exact count... But as a fan, I can appreciate that those fans went for what might be their only visit. It gives everyone a chance that might not otherwise get the opportunity to go and see their beloved Wolverines play in the Big House. But I do believe we got the point across....Don't schedule mediocre opponents. It doesn't do anyone much good.

And I am now going to use this podium - can you call a blog a podium? - to address another issue that I am sure that is currently being discussed at the University of Michigan and around Ann Arbor to an even greater extent than they have already tried to kill it. I have seen various reports at other schools, and now ESPN has finally jumped on the bandwagon and made a satirical argument that to ban Tailgating is to take away Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and Chevrolet....

Rick Reilly has addressed the fact that pro sports venues and collegiate sports venues - including Central Michigan and Western Michigan football, are trying to limit and, in some cases, eliminate the pre game, game time, and post game tailgating activity. Ann Arbor police issued a cease and desist order for the 900 Block of State Street at Hoover where all of campus hangs a right when hiking over the the stadium on game day. (For those of you who haven't witnessed this, it's a classic. Fans can walk by and here loud music coming from the frats and apartments while downing a two story Beer Bong.) Pretty much good, clean college fun.

And all the MMQ can say about trying to stop this natural pre-game activity is:


Look: I am not saying anyone who buys a ticket has a God given right to get completely blasted out of their minds and then enter a stadium, if they can still stumble and bumble their way in where they become a public nuisance and may actually endanger other people. But getting fired up for a game is a big deal for a lot of fans - I mean, look at the picture of the MMQ above and you can see that I am a big fan of the pre-game Toddy.... I know it's a big deal for me and the Crew at the Corner of Hoover and Greene. However, I do think we need to add a little bit of logic and reason to address exactly what they, in this case, the Fun Police, are trying to address.

Alcohol consumption will happen whenever there is a sporting event. Limiting the tailgate time, or when you can enter a parking lot will only do one thing: People that want to consume will simply start cracking the beer in the cars, passing the big game bottle around while they wait for their space to open. The driver might not partake, but there will still be abuse. And do you think THAT is any safer than what happens now? And limiting College Student aclohol intake or somehow making them stop the parties? Really? Is that what you want to spend your time doing? And, when it comes right down to it, as Reilly points out, the Alcoholic can simply go to the nearest pub and get just as hammered as he would at a tailgate, so what's the difference? In addition, and they will find a way, fans will start to "sneak" alcohol into the stadium. I envision body bags under shirts and jerseys, crotched half pint or pint bottles, and concealed "bota" bags making a come back.

What happened to individual freedoms? What happened to people making their own decisions, and if those decisions have ramifications - like the two Detrion Lions girls getting tossed - well, that was their choice.

City officials in College towns or professional sports venues need to have a little leeway when it comes to this type of policing. In today's wired world and with every game on the tube, people will soon find a way to enhance the game experience by NOT BEING THERE. If that's what the officials want, then by all means, continue with your efforts and watch as revenues and ticket sales diminish, even when you have a good team.

The tailgate experience for some fans - think the Lions - is really all they have. If you take that away from them, well, why waste their time with the game?

What I would really like to know is - who's complaining? Who is making it an "issue" that there is too much of "whatever" and they should try to curb the activity for everyone? Are the participants complaining? Can we vote on this? Where is the common sense approach when addressing this issue?

And once you identify the complainers, my guess is you will have identified a minority. A minority that is all about control...And if you lose this freedom, well, what are they going to take next?

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