A student athlete’s perspective on tailgating

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Student athletes view tailgating as an opportunity to increase game attendance and support for athletics. Photo courtesy of Teresa Kottkamp.

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There appears to be a conflicting policy regarding tailgating at the University of Dallas. The official student handbook states that “[p]ossession of open containers of alcohol in public spaces by students of any age, except those containers provided by sanctioned University ser- vices or officials is prohibited.”

An official policy found on the school’s website says that “[s]tudents, alumni, family, friends and licensees may host private tailgate parties in designated UD parking lots in conjunction with home NCAA or club athletic events or in connection with licensed use of athletic fields.”

University of Dallas administrators are now reviewing what is to become the school’s official policy and deciding the final word on the matter.

It is safe to say that most University of Dallas students do not choose to attend UD for the entertainment of high-octane athletics. UD features a myriad of clubs and NCAA sports at the Division III level. With all forms of media competing for students’ attention, including all the sports currently in season, the harsh reality is that Di- vision III sports overall are low on the NCAA totem pole as far as fan support.

A popular complaint amongst student athletes at UD is that the games do not draw a great number of attendees. UD students have plenty of responsibilities – devotion to their Catholic faith, dedication to their rigorous studies, involvement in student clubs and organizations, social time with friends, jobs or other important activities. With so much on their plates, it can be tough to find time to squeeze sup- porting athletics into their busy schedules. However, UD can change the perception of supporting athletics from feeling like less of a chore into more of a social event, which in turn could revolutionize athletic support and create a new sense of community at the university. Tailgating would serve this purpose well by creating a lively setting for students to enjoy food, adult beverages for those of age, fun games and to develop a renewed sense of school spirit.

Tailgating is at the heart of school pride among many colleges and universities throughout the country. It is something for students, families and alumni to look forward to every weekend, not just as a time to go watch some athletic event that they may or may not be interested in, but also a chance to enjoy the much needed social time that is necessary in a balanced student’s lifestyle.

While UD should not aim to foster a tail- gating environment that would rival that of a large public university, it can nonetheless facilitate its own effective tailgating culture. Tailgating as it is described in the policy listed prior would be the perfect fit for UD, including “[r]esponsible consumption of alcohol,” enforced by Campus Security and/or the University police, and with the knowledge that “violation of this policy may result in permanent loss of tailgating privileges.”

Benedictine College, a fellow Cardinal Newman Society school in Atchison, Kansas, held an on campus tailgate prior to their football team’s matchup against Missouri Valley on Oct. 21. The tailgate, at- tended by students, alumni and faculty, involved the consumption of food and alcoholic beverages.

Responsible tail- gating, as specifically described in the policy found on the school’s website would be superb for UD, and its benefit would be two- fold: provide students a suitable setting for important social time away from studying, as well as generating more support for UD’s athletic teams from the school community, families and alumni.

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