Nebraska Athletics officials have again stirred the Sea of Red by suggesting alcohol in Memorial Stadium, but the most recent idea comes with a major catch.
Athletic Director Bill Moos recently said he’s considering allowing alcohol to be sold during football games – but just in suite areas. Such a plan prevents the vast majority of Husker fans from drinking in the stadium while bestowing a perk only to those who can afford the priciest seats in the house.
There should be no middle ground on this topic. In the interest of fairness, alcohol sales must be an all-or-nothing proposition.
The inequity of this latest thought is abundantly clear and sends a message that some fans matter more than others. Either allow everyone of age within the stadium access to purchase alcohol, or continue the current practice of banning it for everyone.
More than 55 Football Bowl Subdivision schools – more than 40% – allow some form of alcohol sales at their stadiums, according to Sports Illustrated. But that number will grow with the Southeastern Conference’s vote to end blanket prohibition on sales.
One of the schools that will restrict alcohol sales to only large donors is the University of Georgia. The club level, from which beer and wine will be sold, is accessible to the select few who have donated $100,000 or more to the university’s athletic association – a decision the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted angered many donors.
Permitting alcohol sales for all patrons of the legal drinking age has improved the fan experience at peer institutions – but not in the way one might imagine.
The same SI report noted that schools serving alcohol stadium-wide saw marked decreases in alcohol-related incidents – including a 65% decline at Ohio State University – attributed to less binge drinking before kickoff. Though this may appear paradoxical, the availability of alcohol encourages reasonable pacing.
Because no booze is available for purchase within the stadium, Husker fans may choose to down a couple more drinks before entering the line, smuggle small bottles of liquor past security or run out to the parking lot to pound a beverage or two during halftime.
All of those encourage consumption of large quantities of alcohol within a short period of time, which is counterintuitive to the message of safe drinking that should be promoted on a college campus. After all, a majority of undergraduates are younger than 21. For that reason alone, keeping Memorial Stadium dry also makes sense.
Whichever path the university chooses on alcohol sales, though, it must be the same for all ticketholders. Whether in bleachers or suites, Husker fans deserve equal ability to celebrate victories or soothe defeats with a drink.