Party on, with a little less beer
New tailgate policies predicted to not harm event’s culture
Audrey Dighans | copy editor
With the fall’s first football game fast approaching, Pittsburg State is also getting ready for another beloved tradition: The Carney Smith Stadium tailgate party.
Tailgating rules at Pitt State underwent some changes in response to a fight that broke out during the Sept. 8, 2012, game vs. the University of Central Oklahoma Bronchos.
The fight provoked university administrators to ban the consumption of alcohol after kickoff for all future tailgates.
Ball in air, booze on ground
With this new policy in place, about 30 minutes before kickoff, designated officials will begin to make announcements to remind those at the tailgate that they must stop drinking.
Anyone caught in violation of the policy will be subject to citation. Area police presence at the party has been stepped up to aid enforcement.
Chuck Buset, alumnus and veteran tailgater, says that’s no problem for him.
“If something were to happen like last year’s first home game, there are now enough people to put a stop to it quick,” Buset said.
Police said that every effort will be made to not disrupt the actual party or legal consumption of alcohol during it.
“I don’t see the new policies having any negative effect on game attendance,” said Capt. Mike McCracken, director of university police, after the policy was announced last year. “In fact, it could have a positive one.”
‘A little more relaxed’
He appears to have been right. Records show that in the games after the fight, tailgate party attendance did not significantly decrease.
Jarred Estrada says he believes people might have made the independent decision to tone down the pace of the parties that were held after the outbreak of violence.
“The atmosphere was a little more relaxed,” said Estrada, senior in justice studies, in an interview conducted three weeks after the fight.
Tim Beck, head football coach, says that he hopes that the main reason people are coming to the tailgate party is to have fun and to support the team.
When they can, he says, people should stop tailgating after kickoff and try to fill the stadium to capacity to boost the Gorillas’ home field advantage.
“We’ve always had the best crowd in the country,” he said. “We want to have everyone in the parking lot come into the game and support us. There have been times where there’s enough people in the parking lot to fill the stadium up.”
Buset says there will not be much of a difference going forward.
“The policy doesn’t affect me,” said Buset, who has attended the parties for years but typically goes into the stadium before kickoff.
He says he understands the desire for a more “family-friendly” atmosphere.
“The fight was a fiasco and alumni and local residents ended up paying for it,” Buset said.
He says he believes that PSU tailgating can have the best of both worlds: family-friendly and collegiate.
Buset added he would like for the university to cordon off those who wish to continue drinking after kickoff, rather than stop drinking entirely.
“I think that’s a side of it that was never really looked at,” Buset said. “The new policy does hurt tailgating attendance.
“It hurts all across the board because it’s the alumni, adults and older folks who have the money to spend and if they can’t enjoy tailgating like they’re used to, they’ll stay at home and listen to the game.”