The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

WHITE: Beverage consumers, beware

Who doesn’t love a good tailgate? Brats, bags, beers. The afternoon of champions, regardless of how the team does, right?

As baseball season gets into full swing, so too does the season of great tailgating. And what a spot Miller Park provides: spacious parking lots filled with casual fans who have packed their coolers to perfection.

Whether you are an avid Brewers fan or just learning which direction the players run around the bases (it’s counter-clockwise), tailgating unites fans and makes the baseball game an event far longer than nine innings — and usually a lot more fun.

I did not realize the joys of such pre-game events until college. A lifetime lover of baseball, I grew up watching the Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit. While Detroit has sort of turned into an abandoned parking lot, the stadium itself offers minimal space for tailgating. Instead, most parking is in distant private lots and underground structures, thus making grilling virtually impossible. Sure, I had heard of tailgating and even participated in some events before football games, but baseball tailgating was a pipedream.

Then I came to Milwaukee, where the beer flows stronger than the river, and the smell of malted hops and barley infiltrate my nostrils whenever there is a slight breeze.

And my love of pre-gaming was born.

My first introduction to pre-gaming was during basketball season — the beginning of a very hot-and-cold relationship. OK, mostly cold. Fostered by basketball games in the winter, standing in line outside the Bradley Center hours before big games like Georgetown and Madison, with shivering limbs and chattering teeth, the appeal of the tailgating phenomenon was initially lost on me.

But as it always does, warm weather came again, and short-term memory loss ensued. Once I started wearing shorts and flip-flops again, standing outside before sporting events seemed like the most logical practice in the world. Beer tasted sweeter, throwing beanbags seemed more fun and my appetite for brats grew exponentially.

Miller Park provides the ideal atmosphere to hang before a baseball game. If outside the stadium is rowdy, the insanity only ensues inside. Fans can purchase two expensive alcoholic beverages at a time but can always go back for more.

With a park named after a brewing company, it makes sense that the social aspect of the game revolves around beverages instead of baseballs. Yet this binge-drinking to celebrate sporting events is common at most arenas. Even at the Bradley Center, where fans are again limited to two beverages per ID at a time, the environment calls for beer consumption — even during collegiate events. The upper-seats become more of a party than anything else at both venues.

Officials consider such binge-drinking at sporting events dangerous, and rightfully so. Especially in high-level seats, what’s to stop a drunken stumble from turning into a broken bone or an innocent run-in turning into a brawl? Some event officials are trying to curb dangerous drinking choices by limiting the number of drinks attendees can purchase.

The Toronto Blue Jays are rationing their fans’ beer intake for 500-level patrons to one drink at a time once inside the stadium. Jay Sternhouse, a spokesman for the team, said the decision to limit beverage purchases was made in consultation with the Toronto police in hopes to stave off alcohol-related fights. Lower-level fans can purchase the regular two-drink maximum.

Perhaps limiting the alcohol purchases by one drink does not seem significant, but it does encourage causal fans to use better judgment while drinking. Miller Park shuts down all alcohol sales at the end of the seventh inning, but with a couple hours of tailgating and a few more of game-time, two  innings of sobriety does not a designated driver make.

While baseball and brews definitely go together — especially in Milwaukee Brewers territory — it is important that we monitor our intake, and respect the game. The tailgate is just the warm-up for the main event. So, as the commercials say, enjoy responsibly. Maybe then Miller Park and the Bradley Center won’t have to invoke rules like the Canadians did.

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