Should drinking in our stadiums at big sports encounters be a right? Or a privilege? If we are ever to change mindsets about getting tanked on booze before and at the game, then surely, it’s got to be the latter.
Taking into account the idea of host responsibility, then the ultimate goal of a sports stadium host should be to ensure the safety and enjoyment of every man, woman and child who’ve paid a lot of money to come through the gates expecting a decent evening out. In the immortal words of Tana Umaga, “It’s not tiddlywinks out there” and there’ll always be barracking from fans, but let’s leave most of the aggression out on the playing field.
To lessen the impacts of booze on crowd behaviour at sport, what about if we consider some of the following:
Let’s stop noticeably intoxicated people from setting foot inside stadiums to begin with. We don’t want to create a type of police state at our big venues, but have a few more police on hand at stadium gates to oversee and assist security/gate staff in assessing, and if necessary, preventing overly-drunk patrons from entering. Yes, some stadiums may already be doing such to a degree, but I’ve got to say I’ve seen enough first-hand evidence to doubt we are watchful enough. If need be, we should strengthen any by-laws around this issue.
Around beer available for purchase in stadiums itself, we should increase the licensing and promotion of more low and zero alcohol options.
We could consider introducing a QR code to be available for people who want to drink alcohol in our stadiums. They’d need to scan the code when buying booze at any of the kiosks within the stadium. A night-time match limit of only two units per individual.
There’s another thing, and it’s about perception: Perhaps it’s time we gave more weight and visibility to the term ‘Individual (ie. patron) responsibility’ as regards liquor consumption within public stadium seats and corporate boxes. ‘Host responsibility’ is a given. However it’s almost as if that very term implies we expect a percentage of people will want to get blathered. A focus on Individual as well as on Host responsibility is balanced more towards prevention, rather than cure- or the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff etc.
As far as Host responsibility goes, it should cover not letting people drink to excess anywhere at all within the stadium confines, refusing entry to obviously drunk individuals or guests, and the immediate removal of anyone who is threatening or overly-abusive to others (they need not be intoxicated to be removed in this situation). And yes, I am aware a lot of these points are already followed by stadium management around the country. Just to clear that up.
More and more daytime starts to big games would of course help, but as ever we are frequently at the behest of overseas audiences and money on this issue.
And what about an advertising campaign on TV, radio and social media streams- ‘Don’t be that drunk dork who ruins the game for all’, or something similar. It could be worth a shot (excuse the pun).
As Austin Powers said: “Oh baby, behaaaave”
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