In his column On Oct. 1, sports columnist Ben Breiner blamed the empty student section on apathetic students. ""Wisconsin's student fan culture does not give a crap about the football game,"" he wrote. I disagree. It's not that the students don't care about the game, they are late because they care about beer more.
For years the thriving and vibrant drinking culture at UW-Madison has been blamed for the embarrassingly empty student section during football games. While I doubt the fans who show up with four extra beers in their system feel embarrassed by their tardiness, getting in that extra cheer doesn't have to prevent students from showing up on time. Why not just sell beer at the game?
Now, I know what you might be thinking: selling beer at Badger games is probably the best idea ever. But before you agree wholeheartedly, there are a few problems with this solution. The most terrifying idea is that fans will get dangerously rowdy. The thought of a drunk and uncontrollably riotous student section is probably what keeps the Athletic Department up at night. But serving beer at the football games isn't going to cause people to drink more, it's just going to spread their drinking out over a longer period. The way things stand now, everyone drinks as much as possible so they can stay drunk throughout the game. If I knew that I could get a booster at halftime, I wouldn't have to cram in those extra five games of beer pong.
Besides getting fans to the game on time and allowing them to spread their drinking out over a longer time, think of the money! If the university wants to make some profit in a tough economic time, then they need to start selling beer. Even if students only get a portion of their beer at the stadium, the Athletic Department would rake in tens of thousands of dollars at every single game. What could the money be used for? Perhaps funding some women's sports so we can have a baseball team? More moped parking? More beer? Throwback jerseys? Who cares!
But the best part of selling brew at Camp Randall would be the effect it could have on the very obsessively prompt adult section. Sure, they show up on time, but the student section easily overshadows their enthusiasm. Maybe if the rest of the stadium could get a few drinks at the game they would get up and cheer. The students may be tardy, but in comparison the rest of the stadium looks like they are in lecture.
The added safety of students getting their beer from someone who will check IDs and not overserve them (unlike outside the stadium at house parties) should have brought beer into the stadium years ago. It seems possible the idea was axed for fear people would buy beer for underage fans. Okay, sure, that could happen. But there are hundreds of sports stadiums that serve beer and even liquor, and they don't have riots or lawsuits, and they certainly don't have more underage drinking than already occurs on gameday in Madison.
There is no reason to believe Madison couldn't copy their methods with similar success.
It may seem counterintuitive for the university to use beer to make money and improve our image by getting fans in on time, but it would work. If the Athletic Department has already considered this option, then it seems unlikely they will change their mind to undertake what would be a dramatic change. But I'm hoping they just haven't thought of it yet. Maybe when Barry Alvarez reads this he will look up and go, ""Of course! We can make money, control the environment where people are drinking, people will show up on time and they won't be so incredibly hammered at the beginning.""
Andrew Carpenter is a senior majoring in communication arts and psychology. Please send responses to email@example.com.