Thursday, December 01, 2005

University of Colorado, part 2

Since my experience with the basketball game was so poor I decided to give the school a second chance. I friend offered me a couple of tickets to a home football game at CU. This was a real eye-opener for me.

I invited another friend who lives in Boulder to go with me (my wife has even less interest in college football than basketball). We parked at his house and took the bus to the game. He lives on a route that is a straight shot to the stadium so it was convenient, cheaper than paying for parking, and meant we didn't need to be concerned about driving after knocking a few beers down at the game. Or so we thought.....

They don't server beer or any other form of alcohol at CU football games. I repeat, in a state where Coors is one of the biggest employers, in a city considered highly liberal and proud of it, you cannot buy a beer at a college football game. As two graduates of midwestern universities we were astonished..... knock me over with a feather grade astonished. We had never heard of such a thing. It had never occurred to us. We asked some of our new neighbors what the deal was.

It seems that a few years back the banter and general rowdiness at a Colorado/Colorado State game turned into a drunken brawl. The response of the University was to ban alcohol from the football games. Why be bothered punishing the guilty harshly so students would

a) learn that there are consequences to bad behavior
b) think twice about participating in a drunken brawl on campus

Nope, we will just ban beer from the games and that will solve the problem. If the students can't drink at the game then they will obviously behave. This flies in the face of reason, but whatever. I am not that big a beer drinker and neither is the friend I have brought with me so while were highly intrigued this isn't going to effect our enjoyment of what promises to be a good football game.

But wait, it gets better. Prior to the game starting I noticed a couple of younger photographers wandering around in front of the student section taking pictures of the crowd. I asked the guy next to me if those were yearbook photographers and why they would have 2 of them at the same game. Silly me. Those aren't yearbook photographers. They photograph the entire student section throughout the game so that if anything bad, like a brawl or people heaving things onto the field, were to happen they have film of the student section to use to track down the guilty. "They have been doing it for years." Interesting. I don't ever remember anything like this at any college sports event I went to, but whatever.

Then the coolest thing happened, because the story has to have at least one good part. A stealth bomber did a fly-by. I guess technically it was a fly-over given that it is a bomber. At any rate it flew directly over my head an I would guess it was less than 500 feet above me. Very intensely cool. Even if I cannot have a beer and even if the game sucks, the trip to the game is now well worth it. Apparently the fact that this was going to happen was in the Boulder paper that morning. I don't get the Boulder paper so I had no idea and therefore had no camera with me. Darn.

The first half was pretty good football and we were having a great time. Off to get a hot dog and a soda. Normally I would have done that during play to watch the halftime marching band and avoid the long lines. No such luck. I had asked what halftime would be and had no interest, and given that the game was going well, I waited. After what I thought was a remarkably short wait in line for the little boys room I entered and found a janitor mopping up what was left of a hot dog and some other things after 2 passes through somebody's esophagus. Great. In one of the stalls is apparently the former owner of the hot dog who neither looks or sounds good. I finish my business and hope that the snack line proceeds as smoothly as the restroom line did but with better aroma.

Out in the open area where the vendors are along the walls I notice a number of students having difficulty walking a straight line. A pass by of one of them reveals the heavy smell of bourbon. OK, so don't sell beer and the kids will just smuggle booze into the stadium. I am not the least shocked. I get what was a pretty good German brat, albeit stadium priced, and a soda and head back to my seat. Discussing the half time observances with our new friends I learn that the students are very thoroughly searched by security on the way in. My new friend, a season pass holder of many years, tells me they are likely not getting the booze into the stadium. In what I thought was an entirely reasonable question ask why the hell the University would prohibit beer sales but allow drunken students in. I am told they are not drunk when they pass security.

Stop! Think about this for a moment. I did, and I would have never come up with the answer to this paradox had I not been told. They don't get booze into the stadium and they aren't drunk when they enter but they are clearly quite drunk now.

Apparently, and I do not state this as fact simply as what I was told by one fan who I had never met before that day and have never seen since, they drink a bunch of hard alcohol in a big hurry shortly before entering. They toss the bottle in their trunk or in a garbage bin, then rush through the line and enter still sober. By the end of the first quarter they are drunk and haven't imbibed a drop of alcohol since entering the stadium. Magic? No. Explains what I have seen? Yes. VERY, VERY STUPID, yes. This is a great recipe for alcohol poisoning.

Back to the game, which is still entertaining. The student section is getting more and more rowdy but still very much in the spirit of good team rivalry as far as I can tell. I am not close to their section so I cannot hear what they are yelling but from a distance it looks like what you would expect to see at any college football game.

And then, you knew there was a "and then", didn't you? Somebody throws a little rubber or plastic ball out onto the field. Over the course of the next 10 or 15 minutes there were more little rubber balls and water bottles and cups and popcorn containers. My failing memory tells me there were two brief interruptions in the game caused by this but there was a big hassle of a couple official looking guys occasionally running out on the field, grabbing stuff, and running off well away from the action.

The morals of the story:

a) banning beer sales does not prevent drunk students
b) sober students can still do stupid things
c) your photographers are either inept or your punishment is not sufficiently harsh
d) your university looks bad to visitors

Again, I didn't notice this in any sport section or commentary section in the Denver Post so I begin to assume this is "normal" at CU.


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