Tailgating is a huge part of football culture. However, new Texas State rules regulating this game day tradition are too restrictive and may keep students and visitors from enjoying tailgating activities and football games.
Athletics officials announced new tailgating rules for the 2013 football season Aug. 22. The regulations include several new stipulations aimed at making tailgating a “simple process” in Bobcat Alley within the Strahan Coliseum lot at the corner of Aquarena Springs Drive and Charles Austin Drive, according to an Aug. 22 press release by Texas State Athletics.
Last year, students and visitors could reserve spots weeks in advance for games. Now the days of reserving tailgate spots in advance are over. Students and visitors looking to tailgate this year must show up early in the morning on game days and reserve spots on a first-come, first-serve basis for $10 per parking spot. The $10 fee may seem less costly than last year’s tailgate prices, but bringing 10-30 people along with grills, tents and cars may require multiple parking spots in excess of $30 or more just for one football game—a price many will not be eager to pay.
The new rules essentially require student and visiting tailgaters to be at the ticket booth when it opens at 8 a.m. on game days to wait in line if they want to secure spaces. Once the spots are purchased, many will want to designate at least one person to watch the area until the group is ready to set up at tailgate. Sitting in a parking lot all morning and afternoon might wear students out and keep them from attending games.
In addition, no kegs, glass containers, hard liquor or party balls will be allowed at tailgate, and alcohol cannot be present until after 9 a.m. in tailgating areas. Any time alcohol is present, non-alcoholic food and beverages must also be available and “featured more prominently than alcoholic beverages.” It is important for students to regulate their alcohol consumption and know their limits, however, it is not the responsibility of the university to create rules in an effort to protect students from themselves. Micromanaging to the point of forcing students to purchase smaller containers of alcohol and offer a balance of food options defeats the purpose of an event like tailgate that is meant to be fun and uplifting.
It is understandable that university officials stepped up regulations for tailgating this season, especially considering the chaos and wasteland of litter resulting from tailgate during the Texas Tech football game last year. However, simple initiatives like ensuring enough dumpsters are available on game days to ease clean up should be a priority, not creating rules that may deter typical tailgating festivities.
Despite the pitfalls of tailgating last year, it is important the new rules do not confuse or drive students away from coming out to games and supporting the Bobcats. The new regulations must be clearly communicated to students from the start, actually enforced with warnings and fines, allow students to continue to enjoy tailgate and serve to increase game day attendance to be effective.