No. 944



Have you ever made a suggestion that you felt would be about as welcome as a skunk at a family picnic? Well, that is my chosen task today, and because I feel it is so important to the lives and well-being of many people, I am willing to endure the slings and arrows that will surely come my way.
For all the people across our nation who are involved in planning and carrying out “tailgate” parties, I am going to suggest they not include alcohol in their plans. While I am sure many are already doing this, who knows, this could start a movement that will spread all across this great land of ours.
Please understand, most decisions of this type are very personal and from my perspective, I would never endorse drinking alcohol at any time, but especially at tailgate parties where the behavior and actions of a small number of people can ruin the experience for everyone else. Over the past several weeks I have done considerable research on this topic, and what I found was very sobering, pardon the pun.
In a 2011 Internet article titled, “Pass Complete: Tailgating Can Spawn Drinking Habits,” writer Tom Jacobs makes a strong case for why parents getting inebriated during pre-game parking lot picnics sends a powerful message to their college student offspring. The sight of Mom and Dad drunk in this school- and sports-related context seems to send a uniquely powerful message. “By perceiving their parents to be drunk at tailgates, students may learn to associate social or sporting events with heavy drinking.”
The researchers studied a random sample of 290 freshmen at Penn State, where they note more than 100,000 people attend football games and a large portion tailgate before and after the game. The students were asked to estimate how often in the past year their father and mother had five or more drinks in a two-hour period. They were then asked whether their parents attend tailgating parties, whether they drink at these gatherings, and whether they get drunk on such occasions. The students were then asked about their own drinking habits, including the number of drinks they have on a typical weekend (the average was 9.14) and the number of times they had gotten drunk the past month (1.86 on average). I am sure you get the picture.
A more recent article from September 2013 details how Kevin Hughes fell to his death at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. After having a “few” beers at a tailgate party and later in the stadium, he put out his hand thinking the rail was going to be there, but instead he slipped, tried to grab the rail but went over the side. In short, he was drunk and was dead before he ever reached the hospital. Still another report detailed violence being blamed on tailgate parties that took place on the campus of the University of Texas at El Paso, most caused by those who were not students of the university, and this included underage high school students.
Please understand that my only motivation here is to bring out the best in others. There are millions of people in our nation who are not responsible, we know that, but those of us who are should do our best to take care of them. It is never a comfort to me for others to suffer, even though they are in this condition because of their own choices. I am just appealing to those who plan and organize tailgate parties at sporting events to not include alcohol, because everyone can do without it for a few hours and probably still have a great time as well.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)