Purloined booze is one of college football's greatest traditions, so much so that one of the possible titles for this blog at its inception was, "The Hidden Flask." (Yeah, it was kind of far down the list, but it was there.) Tolerance or even encouragement of a little contraband is passed down like an informal heirloom, with a silent wink or a respectful nod, through the generations. Your grandparents smuggled hooch, your parents, your frat brothers and homecoming dates. Writ small, this is the same reason Prohibition, in its day, so captivated the country: A little nip under the coat brings people together in a way flat swill in a flimsy can or commemorative plastic cup never will. (Though the cups remain great for tossing from the upper deck when things get out of hand.)
(See, for example, Tom Osborne, who, responding to a near-death in one of Nebraska's sky boxes last year with a call for a stricter alcohol ban last week, understood the reality of the thing: "I’ve been very clear that I’m not going to try to search skyboxes or make life miserable for skybox owners." Translation: You're adults, but we have a reputation here, so please don't drink yourselves to death.)
Along the same lines, when the state legislature responded to Minnesota's request to lift the on-campus ban on alcohol sales in premium seating of spanking-new TCF Bank Stadium by introducing a bill that would force the school to either prohibit alcohol sales completely or lift the ban in all the seats, university president Robert Bruininks stood up for tradition:
Some legislators want beer sold throughout the new Gophers football stadium -- from the cheap seats to the luxury boxes. Won't happen, the president of the University of Minnesota said Friday.
"That is not a recommendation you can expect to hear from me," Robert Bruininks told the Board of Regents, "regardless of how this bill proceeds in the House and the Senate."
No Big Ten school (nor almost any school in the country that plays in an on-campus stadium, that I'm aware of) allows general alcohol sales, though all except the teetotalers at Michigan allow beer in the "premium seats" -- skyboxes, etc. The lone exception for years has been Minnesota, which played off-campus, in the Metrodome, and allowed beer sales stadium-wide. In fact, you might remember -- as Bruininks no doubt does, and the Minnesota legislature apparently does not -- one specific result of a drunken afternoon in the Metrodome last year:
A Carroll woman who was caught having sex in the men's room at an Iowa Hawkeye football game in Minneapolis last weekend says she’d had so much wine before kickoff that she doesn’t remember walking into the restroom, the man she had sex with in a stall, or when the police opened the door.
Maybe if she'd had access to more booze inside, her name and picture wouldn't have wound up all over the Internet, is that it? Or does the legislature think stadium sales will act as deterrent to pre-game binges?
Either way, we support Bruininks' stand for tradition in the cheap seats. Your fellow Minnesotans may not be with you, sir, but may the innovative spirit behind the wallet flask, the adapted sunscreen bottle and the makeshift bra liner carry your prohibitive furor to victory.