War begins Saturday for the University of Wisconsin, albeit a relatively tame war. While the Badgers look to go 1-0 on the football field, the university looks to keep the alcoholic culture associated with football games down to a minimum. In many ways, the war on binge drinking and underage drinking is a futile endeavor, especially when dealing with something as inveterately linked as football and beer. But it is a noble endeavor nonetheless; one that the University has shown it is willing to fight. The concept of ""show and blow"" was introduced last year to keep underage drinking down, and now UW has dropped radio ads during football games associated with alcohol presumably to obscure the connection between football and beer drinking.
The university's decision to not accept the money from corporate beer industry leaders Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors makes sense. The economic benefit garnered from the ads was significant, but it isn't worth the hypocrtical message it sends when adminstrators advocate sober fun. Although we do find ourselves in a recession, the $425,000 lost by the ads is entirely possible to replace.
Also, the new ads will give the university a way to influence the image of Badger football and push it more towards the image they want for the university. UW has taken other stands against alcohol. Besides ‘show and blow,' the university also requested that Budweiser halt production of its Badger themed beer cans. It's important that they remain firm, particularly in the state of Wisconsin, a state often sullied by its affinity for beer and its attachment to brew-culture. For the sake of credibility, the university should remain consistent in its assertion that students should have fun responsibly. This makes the pulling of alcohol related ads from broadcasts imperative.
The Big Ten Network began broadcasting with a similar policy towards alcohol, refusing advertisements from the start to set a clear message about its beer policies. If the university really is serious about curtailing binge drinking, then this is a step in the right direction. This way the administration can retain some level of responsibility while allowing students to make their own choices.
But to retain this image, the university must take care to not assume the role of enforcing the law. This campus is not a police state, and I doubt any administrator wants to see it become one. The university's focus should be on the safety of its students, not that they abide by every minor drinking law. Considering that pulling these ads is really just a drop in the bucket of alcohol deterrance that doesn't directly affect students, its hard to take issue with this decision. It is more a gesture of good will and no nonsense. The effects of their actions will be negligible and difficult to monitor, but for the sake of continuity, UW's decision to pull the ads is a sound and rational one.