Joe Podelco / Lantern photographer Chris Poche / Design editor
The marriage between college football and beer is about as American as they come, but that doesn’t mean Ohio State students will be downing their beloved Natty Light in the ‘Shoe anytime soon.
Although universities around the country have started selling beer and spirits at their football games, with West Virginia University being the most recent, it looks like OSU won’t be jumping on that bandwagon any time in the near future.
Despite the potential monetary benefits of beer and liquor sales, OSU officials maintain that for now, Ohio Stadium will remain dry.
“Historically, the issue of alcohol sales during Ohio State football games has been discussed; however, the university’s current policy has been in place better than 10 years,” said Liz Cook, assistant director of media relations, in an email to The Lantern. “While a few colleges and universities across the nation do sell alcohol during games, our policy has worked well for the university and our fans. We are not engaged in any discussions to change the policy.”
Most OSU students have a different opinion on the matter.
“I think they should (sell beer),” said Emily Sullivan, a fourth-year in strategic communication. “I think that most other sporting events do it. If people would not act insane, it wouldn’t be a bad thing.”
Sullivan said that she does not believe selling alcohol at football games would lead to increased levels of public intoxication and underage drinking.
“If anything, students might be more controlled because they have to buy (alcoholic beverages) at the stadium,” she said.
Corey Phelps, a first-year in engineering, said the football games are already crazy, and nothing is going to change that.
“The fans are already crazy,” Phelps said. “I think it would be fun, and the school would probably get more money.”
But not everyone around campus approves of the idea.
Former student Daniel Starek, who graduated in August of 2010 with a degree in history and currently works at Eddie George’s Grille 27 as a bartender, said that selling alcohol during football games would be a “liability” and a “public image nightmare.”
“More arrests would be made after the games,” Starek said. “People wouldn’t go home after the game, they would stay, and instead of sobering up they would want to stay out drinking.”
OSU police chief Paul Denton said that while his department is neutral on the issue, they would be prepared to react to any decision that the university makes regarding the matter.
“If that decision would be made to sell alcohol in the stadium during game days then we would have to add staff and evaluate the situation as necessary,” he said.
Denton added that it is not necessarily the sale of alcohol that would cause problems.
“It’s not the issue of selling alcohol. It’s the behavior that results when people abuse a legal product that it becomes a police issue, such as underage drinking and public intoxication. We have made a lot of progress and we don’t want it to go backwards,” he said, referring to OSU’s effort to make football games fan-friendly.
During the first three home football games against Akron, Toledo and Colorado, there have been 90 open-container citations on campus made by OSU police, according to OSU police records.
Many universities that allow the sale of alcohol have not run into any major issues.
Oliver Luck, athletic director at West Virginia University, has nothing but praise for the university’s decision to sell beer at football games. On June 3, the WVU Board of Governors voted to serve alcohol at sporting events on campus.
“We made a recommendation that the board change its policy which prohibited the sale of alcohol at West Virginia University sporting events. The board agreed to do so this past spring and we have taken advantage of that at our football games and it has worked very well,” Luck said.
Luck added that the introduction of alcohol has not caused any safety issues at West Virginia.
“Like most colleges and universities, there is plenty of alcohol being consumed pre-game, during the game, and post-game and I think that ultimately the decision to sell beer certainly hasn’t caused any more incidents according to the police,” he said. “Our security folks think it’s going very well and are very happy with it. The feedback we have gotten from the police after three home games is that they reported a better atmosphere.”
Currently 36 division I programs serve alcohol during football games. In addition, four Big Ten teams serve alcohol during home football games; Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Purdue.
Govan Curl Jr., a third-year in psychology, said fans are going to drink regardless, and believes OSU should serve alcohol at games.
“They are already rowdy as f**k,” Curl said. “And I don’t appreciate that West Virginia is ahead of us in anything.”