If you're a member of a temperance organization in the Lone Star State, today was not a good one for you as the University of Texas decided to permit alcohol sales during Longhorns football games.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The University of Texas will start selling beer and wine to fans at home football games beginning this fall. Beer and wine were already sold at other sporting events, but Royal-Memorial Stadium had remained alcohol-free. The school announced the change Wednesday.
Nor is Texas necessarily going to be the last domino to fall here. The Big Ten, which does permit adult beverages, has recently been handling Minnesota's experience with booze at games, and Maryland may come soon.
The Minnesota state legislature approved alcohol sales at TCF Bank Stadium more than two years ago, making Minnesota the first Big Ten school to allow beer in one of its facilities. Minnesota remains the only Big Ten school with such a policy, but it might not be alone for long. There's some momentum at Maryland to allow alcohol sales at athletic events. There are alcohol sales at other major-conference programs such as West Virginia.
Revenue is not the only reason to open up beverage sales either. As the study below from The Sport Journal found, enhancing fan experience, increasing student attendance, opening the game to different audiences are all part of the calculus of treating adults like...well, adults. Finally, as the "Beer and Ball On Campus" study indicates, there is very much a state-by-state disparity in cultural attitudes. Given that Louisiana is not Mississippi and Ohio is certainly not Michigan, do conference-wide prohibitions even make much real sense?
5 schools providing on-campus alcohol sales are from Ohio (Akron, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Kent State, and Toledo). 5 schools providing on-campus alcohol sales are from Texas (Houston, North Texas, SMU, UTEP, and TX – San Antonio). 3 schools providing on-campus alcohol sales are from Louisiana (UL Monroe, UL Lafayette, and Tulane). So, 3 states account for 41% of the sites where a sports fan can purchase in-stadium alcohol. This suggests some locations may be more inclined to support alcohol sales.
Now, I completely understand that Austin has a variety of issues at the moment sufficient to justify alcohol sales: flagging performance, poor on-field product, and frankly DKR has never been a racuous, intimidating venue when compared alongside their rowdier kin in College Station. Also, Steve Patterson, the Longhorn AD has come into Austin with a CEO-type mentality, and this could be a pure cash grab as well (please note, this may be literally the only decision that he's made that won't piss off everyone in Burnt Orange.)
Not all of these are problems necessarily afflicting the SEC's name-brand, major players like Florida, LSU, Alabama etc. That said, is it time to start thinking about a policy change at the conference level, where alcohol sales are presently banned by the SEC at our school venues and league-sanctioned events? LSU AD, Joe Alleva, certainly thinks the time is coming.
[RE: Alcohol sales in-stadium] In our league, we've decided to not do it. We've talked about it as Ads. At some point - I don't know if it will be five years from now or 10 year - at some point I think it's going to happen.
I'm probably not as optimistic as Alleva is, however. The South still very much defines itself (or at least governs) by its conservative, sober, hardline Protestant ethos. You don't stop being a Southern Baptist for the Southern Miss game, is what I'm saying. And, as we know in our particular sphere, when students extemporized on the lyrics of a popular Alabama song to include "fuck Auburn, and LSU, and Tennessee too," the administration was beset with the predictable cries of "OH, THINK OF THE CHILDREN." Now, imagine the volume of that chant and the outcry multiplied by a hundred and fifty-thousand empty stadium cups reeking of a $12 Miller Lite. Finally, given Commissioner Sankey's very probable iron fist, I don't think we we expect this to be a decentralized issue, where the Floridas, Kentuckys, LSUs can sell booze, while Auburns and Mississippi States are sitting there sober as a defendant at sentencing.
So, sure, our day may come, but I don't believe it will be soon. For now, just keep tucking minis in your shoes or in your date's purse -- like we've literally done for the past 40 years.
So, what say you?