Attendance to home football games have been shoddy for years. The one saving grace for game day fans was the tailgating tradition before kickoff. However, tailgating has fallen victim to student enthusiasm and participation because much like the football games, it’s lacking winners.
Tailgating used to be a wild, fun time with limitless potential. Now, the recent tailgating policies adopted in 2017 require all alcohol vendors to have a TABC license, as well as sell food and non-alcoholic beverages more predominantly than the booze.
These limitations make it difficult for fraternities, student organizations and spirited alumni to participate in the tailgate from a vending position. Fewer vendors means fewer attendees and if tailgate attendance is floundering, the game will surely not benefit either. Even vendors with the capital to abide by the regulations struggle when attendance drops, creating a negative feedback loop and killing the Bobcat football tradition with the most historical success.
These regulations aim to curb violence and property damage during the events, but it only pushes the activity off-campus. Partakers during tailgate are under watch from the police and are willingly participating in a school event and ultimately benefiting team spirit. When the tailgate becomes an unattractive option on Saturday night, the drinking is not going to be postponed. It’s only going to be relocated.
When this socializing is not participating with the university, Texas State gets none of the money, none of the community and none of the clout. It also shifts the burden onto a wider area patrolled by the same law enforcement departments.
Bringing back classic tailgate can save Texas State football. An enthusiastic tailgating community may or may not come to the games but a lackluster tailgating community will most certainly not attend. Granted, drinking to the point of excess and passing out will make it difficult to attend a football game, but with the necessary culture changes, this can be avoided without the current regulations.
Underage drinking will still be illegal. Open containers not exempted by the tailgate will still be illegal. This is not a legislative or law enforcement change; It’s only a change in university policy. Consenting adults in the commuter lot should be able to make decisions every rodeo, music festival, county fair, professional convention and sporting event permits its attendees to make because if you let them drink, they will come.
The regulations are not all bad. Banning glass is a reasonable measure, especially if attendees in an outside environment are encouraged to drink more. The presence of police is also an acceptable concession as safety can only be guaranteed if medical attention is given to those who go too hard and underage drinking is avoided as a potential liability.
If the university is serious about increasing football game attendance and wants a cut of the pie while they’re at it, bringing back the classic tailgate culture will benefit the program, institution and community in the long run and give students another reason why it’s always a good day to be a Bobcat.