EDITORIAL: Tailgate rules still hurt atmosphere today
It has been more than two years since Central Michigan University created new regulations for tailgating on campus, and the tradition of tailgating at CMU is dead.
This becomes even more apparent during Homecoming Weekend. Alumni come back to celebrate before the football game and head back to Lot 63 where they see only a vague resemblance to what happened during their time as students.
The regulations — including a ban on glass bottles and pets, rules for sound systems and a limit on the quantity of alcoholic beverages one person can bring into the lot – destroyed tailgating at CMU.
While last year’s Homecoming tailgate brought the highest number of students since the rules were established, that number dwindled when it came to Western Weekend, a time when tailgate used to thrive.
While they drew big crowds, the two tailgates do not rival the tailgates of 2008, before the rules were established.
While law enforcement was prevalent, there wasn’t a feeling of being baby-sat as security guards sat at every entrance and barricades forced. Fans got excited for the game and brought that into Kelly/Shorts Stadium, creating a fired-up atmosphere.
Although the rules themselves are not especially restrictive, the fact that there are rules, and posts of police officers enforcing them, spoiled tailgating for the entire campus.
As a matter of fact, tailgating has been so thoroughly destroyed by the rules, that if they were repealed, tailgating would likely still not recover. The majority of current students don’t remember the larger tailgates from before the rules, so the tradition of a massive party in the parking lot exists largely in the memories of upperclassmen and alumni.
So why not repeal them? At this point, what harm could it do?
In 2010, Athletics upped the cost of security from $10,000 to $20,000. At the time they spent more than $4,000 a game just to watch a few students calmly tailgate.
This year the results have been much of what was experienced during 2010, as students have decided to go to Main Street and the surrounding areas before the game.
Making tailgate look less like a war zone, with barricades surrounding students on all sides, might be the first step. It’s not appealing to anyone to be forced inside a box, while just a stone’s throw away families and CMU alumni sit in their vehicles grilling, preparing in a atmosphere that looks a little more like an actual tailgate.
Allowing students a chance to enjoy themselves in a free and open environment could save a CMU tradition, but right now tailgate seems long gone.
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