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The Enduring Bond Between Booze and Collegiate Athletics

Machen’s obviously not fond of alcohol. Fine: as a dentist, he shouldn’t be. I am, and so are thousands of other people who will turn up in Jacksonville for the game this year and every year afterward. I don’t really remember all that much from my time as an undergraduate at the University of Florida, but I do remember enough statistics to remember that two [recent incidents] does not a trend make, and also enough from my econ classes elsewhere that if you restrict market access, you end up with people selling jello shooters out of coolers on the sidewalk in what is referred to as “a black market.” Most people get drunk at tailgates, anyway, meaning that unless Machen is willing to start trunk searches for 100,000 surly people in line to park at the game, he’s out of luck on breaking the enduring bond between booze and collegiate athletics.

A sharp rebuke, in Sporting News, to University of Florida president Bernard Machen’s dream of reducing the number of alcohol vendors at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

Margaret Soltan, July 7, 2009 5:20PM
Posted in: sport

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3 Responses to “The Enduring Bond Between Booze and Collegiate Athletics”

  1. GTWMA Says:

    "Recent statistics from the Mount Nittany Medical Center in State College, Pennsylvania, indicate that the excessive drinking behavior often associated with Spring Break is not confined to the time students spend off campus, and instead persists throughout the year at alarming levels. Choose Responsibility, an organization determined to address the binge drinking culture in America, recognizes the need to address this growing problem before it gets worse.

    In 2008, emergency room personnel working near the campus of Penn State University treated a record number of students for alcohol related problems. These hospital visits were so common that the total number of students treated increased 84% since 2005. In addition, the average blood alcohol level of students seeking treatment rose from 0.234 to 0.252 percent, more than three times the legal limit for intoxication."


    "As one of the year’s major student partying occasions approaches, Penn State University officials point to what they hope are sobering statistics about a rise in alcohol-related emergency room visits by students.

    They hope to keep St. Patrick’s Day intoxication down to a dull roar, as well as the related Penn-State-specific celebration of "State Patrick’s Day" coming up on Saturday.

    Despite alcohol-education initiatives on campus and in downtown State College, Vice President for University Relations Bill Mahon says 313 Penn State students sought alcohol-related emergency room care at Mount Nittany Medical Center between August and December of 2008. That’s up more than 100 from the same period in the fall of 2007.

    The university counted 558 ER visits for alcohol-related problems during all of 2008, a startling jump from 304 three years earlier in 2005."

    Dear Spencer: It’s a trend, and not just at UF. I like alcohol. I have some nearly every night. But, this isn’t behavior any University President, faculty member, or student should ignore. It’s dangerous and destructive. And, there are some well-tested solutions, like reducing the number of outlets.

    However, since you want to turn a blind eye to it, I’ll suggest a compromise. The next time a University President has to call a family to tell them their son or daughter died from binge drinking, you get to do the honors.

  2. NDC Says:

    The Georgia Florida game isn’t really the best place to try to change the culture of student drinking on campus. The game isn’t even held on either campus, without getting into how what takes place at relatively few football games actually shapes the behavior of students on non-game days.

    If we’re talking about student drinking at Georgia, I’m not convinced that more students are drunk on game day than are drunk on any given Friday night. The games do bring on the additional problem of drunk alumni and fans, but that’s a different issue from the "next time a University President has to tell them their son or daughter died" as you rather emotionally made your argument.

    Relatively few students actually attend the Georgia Florida game, compared to the number of alumni or fans who never attended the schools; in fact, current students have to participate in campus ticket lotteries in the hopes of getting tickets. (I’m not sure how this works today, but fewer students seems to get tickets to games than they used to) Universities can make a lot more money selling them to non-students.

    College presidents can try to focus their efforts on events like the one referred to as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in the hopes of changing the image of certain singular events, but the connection between that and binge drinking on campus remains to be seen.

  3. NDC Says:


    I was looking for information about enrollment at UGA to check what I said about fewer students getting tickets, and I really can’t be sure.

    But that link has some interesting grade and test score trends at UGA.

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