The Stadium Plan To Ban Booze

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - August 10, 2005
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People are talking now that the Aloha Stadium Authority has said Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona’s plan to ban alcohol at the stadium is worth investigating. No surprise. For as many people that can be crammed into the stadium there are opinions about what is right and wrong with the place. Alcohol is no exception.

Those who support the status quo say a cold beer, or several, is part of the sporting environment that includes tailgating and celebrating among friends old and new. That the problem is with a very few and that the good should not be punished for the stupidity of the bad. Solid points. To some, banning alcohol at football games is as silly as eliminating peanuts, popcorn and Cracker Jacks from baseball. Others, however, would argue that the combination of caramel and peanuts have rarely led to hostility among fans.

Increasingly people are complaining about rude behavior by some in attendance. Concerned parents have stopped bringing their kids to the games because of those who can’t seem to show hometown support without a constant barrage of obscenities that would flush the cheeks of the entire Pacific fleet. It was for these reasons that the family seating area was created. A good first step.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in implementing Aiona’s plan is economics. Beer sales generate large sums of revenue for the stadium while advertisers pour money into the UH coffers. A ban on either would mean increased financial hardship for an athletic program that is not exactly overflowing with cash. Interim UH president David McClain said that he philosophically supports the idea of banning sales and advertising of alcohol, but that it may take time before such a plan is implemented. Just as money can benefit the school, it can also be used to punish it as well.

UH and the stadium authority are just one injury away from a lawsuit larger than the entire athletic budget. That’s a problem. Most wouldn’t mind if two drunkards want to beat on each other for their own enjoyment. Unfortunately the pushing and shoving tends to get others involved. And that’s when the innocent get injured. In 1999 a jury awarded $135 million to a girl and her mother who were severely injured in a car crash involving a drunk driver who had just left a New York Giants game. These types of suits have been rare, but the U.S. is a very litigious society, and if the temperature of coffee is worth suing over, someone getting roughed up in a fight is not far off. Hawaii is not immune to the ills of society.

Colleges all over the country have banned booze from the bleachers. In fact, Hawaii’s first opponent, USC, has a ban in place that will put them in line with all other Pac-10 schools.

No matter what decision the authorities make, the days of unregulated drinking at universities and their sanctioned events are over, mainly because of the problem of underage drinking, which may not be much of a problem at UH games, or binge drinking, which does happen at the stadium. Administrators are moving toward change.

According to the federally funded Task Force on College Drinking, 1,400 college students die each year in alcohol related accidents. Alcohol plays a role in 70,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape each year and alcohol contributes to 500,000 injuries annually among college students.

Drinking can be a fun, social activity. Alcohol mixed with the fevered passion of football can be dangerous. The best way to combat this problem is through self-control. Be honest. If you’re the type who tends to get aggressive while drinking, then leave it at home. If you see laws being broken, inform security or police. Enjoy your beer at Aloha Stadium, Stan Sheriff Center or Les Murakami Stadium. Just do it responsibly and help your friends do the same.

The alcohol policy at UH events will change. It has in the dorms, and it’s not stopping there.

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