Getting a Beer at the Game
By: Les Barnhart 
Posted: 2004-07-25
Category: Washington Redskins News
Beer. Sports. To be clearer, the sports in which I am referring would be any sport that allows the other. I was recently involved in a debate regarding what I thought about the sale of beer at sports arenas. On the surface, the answer is pretty simple, yes. Beer should be sold at sporting events. Not all events though. I mean, I shouldn't be able to buy an $8.00 draft at say the Little League World Series, for example. But on the other hand perhaps at swim meets, gymnastics, and tennis and tee ball. Wouldn't the prospect of a beer be nice knowing that you will be sitting in the stands watching the excitement that is those sports unfold? Seriously though, the question of whether beer should be sold at sporting events, once you get past the knee-jerk response, is an intriguing one.

Those who know me know that I am a simple man with a simple life. I have a computer that does things while I am not even around it and it talks to me and tells me what I need to do to fix what I have undoubtedly done wrong. I know how to turn it on, surf the internet, and send email. (I am convinced that my computer secretly desires to be owned by someone who will use it to its full capacity. It's like the fast sports car sitting in an old man's garage gathering dust as an expensive collectable.) I don't have a cell phone, beeper or PDA and my proudest electrical device is my Playstation 2 which I have for the football and golf games. I like beer. I like chicken wings. And I love my kids, my wife and sports, although not always necessarily in that order. What I don't like are drunks or someone that effects my enjoyment of the sporting event that I have paid, in most cases, good money to see.

The first thing I did when asked this question (well actually the second) was to ask myself how much of my enjoyment of the sport I am watching does beer make up? Now to be fair, the sports in which I attend and have the option of getting a beer while at the game are: football (NFL), professional baseball (Major and Minor League Baseball), hockey (NHL and Minor League hockey) and NASCAR. Now, I also tailgate at Penn State games but I don't include that as no alcohol is served inside Beaver Stadium. Not yet at least. In looking back over the past couple years of attending these sports, I have noted that I don't drink beer at the games. I may have one before with some friends or even one after but I don't have any while in the arena. Could cost have something to do with that? Sure, the $8.00 draft that costs me $2.00 across the street at the local pub is harder to swallow than the 9th inning hot dog that has been rotating inside the "wiener heater" for the last 5 hours. It could be that, but I rather think it is something else.

We have all heard about or been witness to someone at a sporting event who has had too many "wobbly pops" and has somehow convinced themselves that the people around him are not there to see the event but rather to see and hear them. Heck, maybe you can speak from personal experience in this area. Maybe these folks do it because they feel entitled since they paid so much to get there in the first place. Or perhaps watching the given sport reminds them of a lost youth when they were still playing games without the stresses of everyday life. No mortgages, no credit cards, no car payments. It could be a number of things that cause this metamorphosis. The one thing it isn't, is 'fun' for those who have to deal with those who "choose to booze".

The question of whether or not beer should be served at sporting events will always boil down to one issue and unfortunately it won't be an ethical decision but rather one of economics. In those arenas where beer is sold, the final tally will show that beer sales comprise somewhere in the neighborhood of half of all the sales for that event. Those are staggering statistics that are impossible for franchises to ignore. In some respects, those sales keep ticket prices at a level that allow us to attend the events. Removing beer from the equation, considering the bulging salaries and costs of sports, may price many of the fans out of the game. In that respect, beer has a place, but it is as an economic necessity more than anything else. The problem that is laid at the feet of those serving beer is... is there a way that it can be controlled? There are sections of the arenas that are smoke free and some have even designated sections as "family sections" in which beer is not sold. The problem with the family section is that they are usually out of the prime area and therefore almost punish someone who wants to enjoy a game without the worries of having to deal with a fan that has had more than he should be allowed.

I understand that this question is one that could be viewed from several points of view and I can truly see most of them. Beer and sports have had a relationship since long before I can remember and it wouldn't be too much of a reach to believe that relationship will continue for many more years. It should be known that I am all for having a beer while watching the game in the confines of your home, tailgating or in your favorite pub (with a designated driver of course) but I don't share that sentiment within the site of the sport you are attending. When I can be convinced that beer can make my watching a sport better, or getting pie-eyed will make me a better fan, then I will change my tune. Until then, have respect to the sport, other fans and like the slogan says...Have a Coke and a smile.

-Wingman
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