Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
With Notre Dame is behind us and one more home game left in the season, I think it is time that Boston College considers a major overhaul of its tailgating procedures for next year. While I myself had a great time on Saturday and don’t doubt that I am joined by many others in feeling the same, I also heard a lot of “choice words” unfit for print, floating around about what a “fiasco” (to put it mildly) Shea Field was Saturday night before the game. For those of you who weren’t there or made it there after six, when they closed the field for all hoping to enter (though this was only a half-hour after it opened), let me set the scene for you. Beginning at 5 p.m. when tailgating was allegedly supposed to start, a large crowd began to mill around outside of Shea. By 5:30 p.m., this crowd led well past Shea, had gathered in the parking lots, and was spilling out onto Campanella Way. I say gathered because there was no line forming, just a bunch of people clustered together trying to push their way to the entrance.
I’m sure it was the hopes of the BCPD that this growing group would remain orderly and calm but, alas, it was a large crowd anticipating a football game, and while most people stood patiently, a good handful pushed, shouted, cut the line, and ran around for no reason.
While I waited, I watched as three—count them, three—officers wrestled an embarrassed looking girl in a cheetah print coat through the throngs of waiting fans. They wrestled, not because the girl was being noncompliant, but because there was nowhere for them to go and no room for us to move to accommodate them. Visitors in line who hoped to politely supply some form of alcohol to the tailgates they were about to attend were told that they could not bring it onto Shea, and thus the type of binge drinking that BC is constantly trying to prevent was started in line before the game—before tailgating, even—not by students, but by generally level-headed adults. Adults who bring things to share at tailgates. Adults who suddenly found themselves with six-packs and 30-racks they were going to be forced to toss upon entry. What to do? Drink fast, I guess.
The officials standing at the head of the unnecessarily small pathway we were then funneled through shouted at people to discard their alcohol and open their bags to be searched. I felt compelled to shout, “Also, remember to remove your shoes and take off your watches, because you will next be asked to enter airport security, for those of you who do not wish to do so, please step aside for a pat down,” but then stopped myself, remembering the girl in the cheetah coat, and watched as a group of mild-mannered 30-somethings shotgunned a case of beer before walking through the check-point. The path alongside and leading to Shea was expanded while I was in line, causing a lot of tripping and running and making me wonder how anyone was going to attend the tailgate with children in tow.
Once on Shea, students, alumni, visitors, and friends were confronted with crowds of apocalyptic Black Friday proportions. Weaseling one’s way onto the field was no small feat, and once on, attempting to meet up with friends or move was next to impossible. Most people ended up standing around in the same area on top of whoever was standing around with them. When I heard that they had stopped letting people onto the field because it was a fire hazard, I couldn’t help but wonder if that was truly the hazard they should be worried about. Surely crowding hundreds of people onto a baseball field filled with cars and grills is a problem, but isn’t keeping them fenced into that area with only four small exits a bigger part of that issue? Since I was a freshman I have strongly believed that BC needed to revamp its tailgating image, and if last weekend’s Notre Dame game tailgating fiasco wasn’t a mandate to do so, I don’t know what will change the administration’s mind.
We’ve all had the rules emailed, barked, shouted, and practically beat into us this football season, and in football seasons past, and it’s time for a change. Upon looking at our tailgating rules posted under Football A-Z Guide on BCEagles.com, versus Notre Dame’s posted on their own game day website, we should be ashamed of ourselves. “Tailgating Policy,” reads our heading. “Tailgate Like a Champion,” reads Notre Dame’s. Our list ticks off rules like those of Ms. Trunchbull’s classroom in Matilda: “No, No, No, No!” while Notre Dame’s reminds tailgaters to “have fun,” “pack extra chairs,” and “wear your team pride.” BC needs to sit down and re-evaluate the way tailgating is carried out, because ruling over game days with an iron fist has led to an animosity between tailgaters and the BCPD that has become a safety issue in itself. BC needs to consider whether it is a hazard to block off many entryways to Shea, leaving only a few open for select periods of time, and if the time constraints on tailgating are doing anything to prevent binge drinking or if they encourage more of it within a shorter time span. Would Shea crowding be more under control if people were allowed to leave and come back? How would the dynamic change if people were allowed to enter without a ticket? These, among other things, need to be addressed, keeping in mind that, as students, we not only desire to have fun, but also to be safe in showing our school spirit on game day.