What is it about going to a college football game that causes so many people to drink too much? Is it possible that it's somehow become acceptable to get blotto before walking into the stadium and then act like a jerk once you're in the stands?
Oregon State Police, which handles the security detail at Reser Stadium, ejected 60 people from the Nov. 10 game between Oregon State University and the University of Washington. Virtually all resulted from bad behavior tied to alcohol, according to Lt. Phil Zerzan, commander of OSP's university station. Drunks were kicked out for urinating in the stands. They were thrown out after throwing up in the aisles. They were booted after getting belligerent when it was pointed out that they were in someone else's seat.
Most of these problems weren't in the student section.
"A lot of people assume it's the students who are causing the problems," Zerzan said. "Actually it's the 20-, 30- 40-year-old non-students ... who are causing the problems."
What might also surprise a lot of people is that excessive drinking and the accompanying bad behavior is a problem almost everywhere big-time college football is played.
Zerzan has been working security at Reser for 10 years. In that time, he said, the alcohol problem has gotten worse. "What needs to occur is a cultural shift to more responsible drinking and more responsible fan behavior," he said.
The problem is that such cultural shifts are slow to occur on their own. It might help to adopt some new stadium rules:
- Limit tailgating. Shut it down an hour before kickoff. This gives people less time to drink or, if you choose, more time to sober up before the game.
- Prohibit re-entry. At halftime, many fans leave Reser where alcohol isn't allowed to head for nearby parking lots for more drinking. Such a policy would prevent people from returning with an even bigger buzz.
The truth is, college football is pretty exciting. You really don't have to be drunk to enjoy it. Ask the thousands of stone-sober fans who had a blast cheering the Beavers' win over Washington.