Earlier this summer, Virginia Tech announced that it would allow the sale of alcohol throughout all sections of Lane Stadium and Cassell Coliseum. This announcement marks the first time in years in which alcohol has been sold throughout the entire stadium, as purchases were previously limited to premium seating. Alcohol, sports and devout fans sounds like the perfect equation for a good time, right? Think again.
Lane Stadium should first reconsider selling alcohol as it promotes misbehavior among its attendees. Cristina Garrido, a senior majoring in international studies, described her game day experience in the student section following the new approval of alcohol sales in Lane Stadium.
“I think alcohol has had a negative impact on attendee behavior,” Garrido said. “However, most of the disruptive behavior I’ve witnessed has been from students who either came to the game already intoxicated or are underage drinking.”
Whether or not attendees arrive at the stadium intoxicated, the ability to purchase alcohol during the game further increases the potential for disruptive behavior. According to Northwestern Medicine, scientific evidence shows alcohol can have a negative impact on the brain; while alcohol can cause some euphoria and excitement, it can also impair one’s judgement within minutes of consumption, leading to disruptive behavior. This behavior not only disrupts the game, but can ruin other fans’ experiences as well.
In a statement emailed to students, Frank Shushok Jr., the vice president for student affairs, outlined the importance of upholding respect and proper behavior following the Hokies’ win against UNC on Sept. 3.
“From the obscenity hurled from a car at North Carolina fans eating lunch outside on Main Street, to drunken disruptions for families sitting adjacent to the student section, to outright disrespect of personnel working at the game, we fell short this week,” Shushok Jr. wrote.
This email excerpt not only outlines the problem with the increased access to alcohol within the stadium, but also shows how attendee behavior can reflect poorly on Virginia Tech. A “drunken disruption” is not what a family should remember when thinking of their time spent at Lane Stadium. Fans should have the freedom to enjoy the game without disruptions from those who cannot drink responsibly. Virginia Tech should instead limit the availability of alcohol at the stadium and further promote responsible drinking if they are to uphold a fun and safe game day experience.
Virginia Tech must also be mindful of how the new alcohol regulations will influence underage drinking. According to Garrido, some of the disruptive behavior witnessed at football games has been attributed to underage drinking. While a valid ID is required to purchase alcohol, simply allowing alcoholic beverages to be sold around the stadium can increase the occurrence of underage drinking. Students may get creative and have others purchase alcohol on their behalf or find some other means of obtaining alcohol within the stadium. It is no secret that underage drinking occurs within college students. In fact, a national survey conducted by the Center for Behavioral Statistics and Quality from the years 2018 to 2019 showed approximately 53% of college students aged 18 to 22 have consumed alcohol within one month of the survey while 33% have participated in binge-drinking within one month of the survey. While the alcohol sold at Lane Stadium is intended for those of legal age, the university must recognize that this distribution of alcohol makes it easier for underage students to get their hands on a drink.
However, there are some benefits to the new alcohol regulations, as described by Garrido.
“I think Lane Stadium should allow the distribution of alcohol because it can generate a lot of revenue for Virginia Tech Athletics and creates a better experience for alumni, season ticket holders and the general public, who make up the majority of the audience at the games,” Garrido said.
While the sale of alcohol does generate extra revenue for the school and can contribute to an exciting fan experience, Virginia Tech must reconsider how alcohol can negatively impact the game. If Lane Stadium is to continue to sell alcohol, the university needs to be more mindful of who is purchasing drinks and must design a more effective system for distribution. This can include separating alcohol sales from those of non-alcoholic drinks and food to prevent long wait times at concessions.
Students and fans have looked forward to Virginia Tech athletic events, even before the decision to sell alcohol throughout the stadium was enacted. That has not changed. People can still continue to enjoy games and all that Lane Stadium has to offer without the added sale of alcohol. Alcohol, sports and devout fans are only a risky combination that can lead to obnoxious behavior.
Upon further review, the ruling on the field stands: It looks like our perfect equation for a good time is not so perfect after all.