On The Fence: The thrill of the start of football season
Bobby Leach "The Rooster" | 9/7/2014, 6:34 p.m.
The start of the prep football season is always a welcomed time of year for me personally largely because of my passion for the sport and the wide variety of fans and participants that gather every Friday night or Saturday afternoon depending on what school district the team competes in. Regardless, these games draw fans of all ages which is why I am troubled at some of the conduct I witness at these games from time to time.
This past week while attending a game at Joliet's Memorial Stadium, I personally witnessed more than one group of adult fans enjoying alcoholic beverages in the parking lot prior to the game between Providence and Joliet Catholic which frankly made me feel uneasy.
Tailgating parties are common to the sport and if this were a collegiate or professional game I don't think I would have paid much attention to a few beers between friends in a parking lot but when it takes place at a high school football game, I think it is reckless. This is still a game in which kids play and even younger kids are present, in my opinion there is no place for the use of alcohol at a high school football game regardless if it is two public or two private schools in competition.
I wonder how many local high schools would allow parents the consumption of alcoholic beverages on their campus. Without doing much research I doubt it is a practice welcomed by school districts. The IHSA forbids the consumption of alcohol at all state series events and offers penalties for ignoring the rule however, there is nothing specifically in the guideline that applies to non- state series events which is puzzling to me. Perhaps it is due to a lack of jurisdiction or some other unknown reason but I would think that there is some influence that can come from IHSA membership to make clear a position.
There is nothing wrong with a legal drink however, there are appropriate and inappropriate circumstances that most can self govern and generally be fine. Let's face it, I don't think I am in the minority when I say that any consumption of alcohol at any pre-adult sporting event should be banned for obvious reasons. The message sent to kids in that scenario I believe is not a welcomed one.
There are all kinds of witty warnings about alcohol consumption and in this case the one that comes to mind is "Think Before You Drink". The IHSA should take a more clear position on this and make it known that high school competitions should always be void of alcohol regardless if it is a state series game or not and venues hosting events should suffer similar penalties that state series venues face in defiance of that accord.