I went to my first college football game in 1970 at The University of Oklahoma (I don’t remember who they were playing).
My Dad was a barber and his barber shop was in the Skelly Building, home of Skelly Oil Company (now it’s the Boulder Tower). Skelly Oil Company had arranged for several buses to take employees to the game.
My brother Bill and I signed up to go. It cost about $30 and it included a sack lunch, the bus ride and a ticket in the endzone.
What a deal.
I don’t drink alcohol. I have never liked the taste of it. And as a Christian, I have always thought my life would be better avoiding booze. I understand that the Bible doesn’t describe drinking wine as a sin but getting drunk definitely is a sin. I have always felt that if I didn’t drink, I would never have to worry about getting drunk. And I have good Christian friends who drink wine and I certainly don’t condemn them.
But on this Skelly Oil Company junket, I had never seen so much alcohol in my life (I was 18 at the time). People were bringing what looked like gallon bottles of vodka, cases of strong beer and all kinds of alcohol.
Everyone was civil but the bus got louder and louder the closer we got to Norman. I think some of our fellow travelers were happy because they could drink all they wanted since they were not driving.
It was a September game and the temperature was around 100. I remember watching people get back on the bus. They didn’t look so good, which is ironic because OU won easily.
If they looked sick after the game, I would hate to think how they felt the next morning with a hangover.
More than 30 years later, I went to the OU-Texas game in Dallas with my son Brian, who was a teenager at that time. The Texas State Fair was packed and we worked our way through the crowd to the stadium.
Two drunken Texas fans (complete with cowboy outfits) ran right into us. One spilled his whole cup of beer on me. I smelled like a brewery in the press box for the whole game.
Starting in college, I went to the OU-Texas game many times. Once I went 13 years in a row. On occasion, we would go to Commerce Street in Downtown Dallas on Friday night before the game. OU and Texas fans got really drunk and said terrible things. One time, a Texas fan threw an open can of beer at us.
During the OU-Texas game one time, when it was particularly hot, a drunken Sooner fan was walking down our aisle and he threw up on the steps right below us.
If you go to any college football game these days, you will see fans headed to the luxury boxes and they all have open bars with tons of alcohol. Many corporations buy or rent these boxes and entertain clients during the games. And they drink a lot. If you look at the windows at the front of the luxury boxes during the game, you will almost always see some empty seats. That’s because they are more interested in the buffet dinner or the open bar than the game.
People love to have tailgate parties at college football games. They serve barbecue or hamburgers or sandwiches and ice-cold beer.
There doesn’t seem to be too many problems with drinking at tailgate parties at TU, OSU or OU.
But now TU is going to sell beer at its home football games from its concession stands. They will probably sell a lot of expensive beer to a lot of fans.
This could pose a problem for families with young kids who just want to enjoy the football game and not deal with the antics or bad sportsmanship of the occasional drunk.
I understand that people can sneak booze into a game (although they even check your binoculars at OU to see if they are really flasks). And I know that many people can handle drinking a few beers without any bad effects.
But I would hope that colleges, who are supposed to shape the character of young people, would set a good example and not sell alcohol. I am not advocating prohibition.
I have been to only one hockey game in my life and it was $1 beer night (this was years ago). A guy sitting next to me got a beer in a cup that looked as big as a bucket of chicken from Kentucky Fried Chicken. I am sure that every professional hockey team sells beer in their arenas. You have to wonder if that helps get the crowd worked up for a fight.
College sports should be distinct from professional venues. That’s a good policy.
I don’t think TU is committed to a long-term policy of beer sales, especially if problems develop. I think they want more revenue and they think they might draw back a certain crowd with beer sales.
I just keep thinking back to the faces of those drunks on that bus in 1970…