Saturday, August 29, 2009

No Bottles on the Grass!

For those of us who tailgate on a grassy lot at Penn State, there is a new rule in place:  no bottles on any grassy tailgating lot.  Leave your favorite micro brew that only comes in a glass bottle home.  You'll have to get used to drinking beer from a can again.  You stand the risk of having any bottles taken away.  Assuming, of course, that Penn State has the people resources to enforce this new policy. 

My guess is that the enforcement will be concentrated on certain lots where there have been serious problems:  athletic fields where broken glass after a game have caused injuries to student-athletes at practice, agricultural fields where Penn State's livestock have been found with glass shards in them.  But we're not taking any chances.  We'll leave the Killian's Red at home and bring something else.

There are a lot of protests about this new policy.  The key question is, "Why just grassy areas, why not the paved lots?"  An editorial in Penn State's student newspaper The Daily Collegian suggested that Penn State is trying not to alienate the big donors who pay lots of money for reserved parking, most of which is on paved lots.  My guess is that they're right.

But what's fair is fair.  Penn State should just declare "No glass, period.  It's too dangerous - anywhere"  Those who pay for reserved parking will adjust.  I doubt it will cause anyone to give up their tickets or stop donating to Penn State.  They can put their vodka and whiskey in  plastic or aluminum containers.  They can bring cans rather than bottles.   It's a small inconvenience for a large gain - avoiding injury and reducing the cost to Penn State of cleaning up the lots after the game.  Besides, as The Daily Collegian points out, glass is more likely to shatter on a paved lot than on grass. 

Some people don't recognize how serious a problem this is.  We had a taste of it at a Blue-White game two years ago where we didn't have access to our reserved parking space (which is on the grass, by the way).  The parking area where we were was an absolute mess after the game - far worse than anything I've seen in reserved parking.  Broken bottles, beer cans were strewn everywhere - the utter disregard for common sense - cleaning up after a tailgate - was appalling.  I was afraid that our tires would get slashed just pulling out of the lot there was so much broken glass. 

There are some who would suggest that we don't need a new policy - that people should just clean up after themselves.  I disagree.  Human nature, especially belligerent drunken human nature that happens in some of our lots, works against that.  In this third largest city in Pennsylvania that occurs on a football Saturday at University Park, there are too many safety challenges.  By declaring no glass, Penn State can at least eliminate one safety challenge that has serious consequences. 

Look, if Ohio State can put a stop to all drinking on campus before a football game, Penn State can declare no glass.  It's a slight inconvenience.  But tailgaters can still drink.  Penn State shouldn't be so timid!  Enforce the "no glass" policy everywhere.


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