Tailgating: Effective Practices to Reduce High-Risk Drinking and Negative Consequences

College sports consist of many long-held traditions. One such tradition is tailgating, which often involves alcohol consumption that occurs before, during, and after the game itself. In addition to widespread high-risk and underage drinking at tailgating events, other problems include alcohol overdose, excessive trash, vandalism to parked vehicles, fights, assaults, and driving under the influence. In recent years, many campuses have implemented policies and practices to discourage high-risk alcohol consumption at tailgates, resulting in a safer and more family-friendly celebratory game day environment.

Below are some tailgating policies and best practices adopted by colleges and universities to reduce high-risk drinking and negative consequences:

  • Provide alcohol-free game-day activities; co-sponsor with community businesses and organizations to attract families and diversify offerings; offer in usual tailgating locations.
  • Encourage family attendance at events and promote a family-friendly atmosphere.
  • Work with Alumni Affairs, other alumni organizations, and season ticket holders to address desire for 'tradition and celebration' and involve them in the coordination of festivities that promote a healthy environment. This is particularly important at schools where sporting events attract a large audience of alumni and nonstudents.
  • Communicate tailgating and stadium policies to students, alumni, and season ticket holders.
  • Limit the hours of tailgating before and after sporting events.
  • Prohibit tailgating during the game.
  • Prohibit spectators from bringing alcohol into the stadium.
  • Ban drinking games and materials that encourage high-risk alcohol consumption (e.g., beer pong, funnels, ice luges).
  • Institute a 'no re-entry' policy during events; this limits spectator access to alcohol.
  • Prohibit alcohol use completely in stadiums and/or at tailgating events.
  • Prohibit alcohol sales around and outside of the stadium.
  • Increase campus safety and/or police presence in stadium and tailgating areas'before, during, and after events.
  • Consistently enforce campus policies and state and local laws (e.g., regarding underage drinking, open containers, public disturbances, serving to and buying for minors, etc.).
    • Increase disciplinary sanctions for violation of campus policies.
    • Increase criminal prosecution of students for alcohol-related offenses.
    • Notify parents of rule violations.
  • Train all stadium staff and others working at events regarding policies and procedures.
  • Identify impaired guests at events and take action to prevent injury or harm to them and others. Prohibit intoxicated spectators from entering stadium or tailgating areas.
  • Limit marketing and promotion of alcohol:
    • Restrict or eliminate alcohol advertising in stadiums, during events, and in athletics and other event publications.
    • Reduce marketing and promotion targeted at athletes as well as other students. Work with local bar and business owners to limit such marketing.
    • Restrict alcohol advertising in student publications.

If alcohol is served or allowed at events:

  • Reduce container size of alcoholic beverages.
  • Encourage limits regarding quantity per sale.
  • Prohibit large sources of alcohol (e.g., kegs).
  • Limit the hours of alcohol sales at events. Stop serving well before the end of the event.
  • Offer free or reduced-price nonalcoholic beverages and food at lower prices.
  • Designate specific tailgating areas (e.g., alcohol-free, undergraduates, alumni, families).
  • Require any and all on-campus alcohol servers to be registered and trained in responsible hospitality (responsible beverage service).
  • Hire professional, nonstudent alcohol servers and ensure they have received necessary training regarding state and local laws and campus policies.
  • Increase ID checks at functions.
  • Enforce seller penalties for sale of liquor to minors.
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