Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Let’s Just BAN Underage Drinking

Posted by bsflag2007 on Saturday, October 6, 2007

Another Howard County High School has jumped on the bandwagon and banned bringing beverages into football games.  That brings the current total to three (Wilde Lake, Centennial and now Howard).

The only drinks allowed will be those purchased at the concession stands.   According to one of the Principals involved, this is in response to an incident where teenagers were reportedly “drinking under the bleachers” during a football game.

Area principals report a “sense” that there has been an increase in underage drinking in recent years.   They also feel there is a link between underage drinking and disruptive behavior at sporting events.

Soooo…. they have decided to “ban” outside beverages from sporting events.  This ban applies to students and adults alike and will be enforced by staff members posted at the entrances to the venues.

I am not suggesting that there are any hidden agendas here – like increasing fund raising at school sponsored concession stands.

I am not suggesting that the “feeling” that there has been an increase in underage drinking recently is incorrect— though unless these kids are drink all day, every day it is hard to imagine they are drinking more than my classmates did in high school (back in the olden days).

I am not disputing the notion that alcohol fuels disruptive behavior and may be a factor in altercations at sporting events between rival teams.

However, I would like folks to take a moment and consider this perennial “fallback” position of “banning” certain items or activities purportedly to achieve order.

The “banning” of outside drinks at an outdoor high school football game in order to curb underage drinking and disruptive behavior strikes me as a feelgood measure with little chance of having any of the desired effects.

With the exception of the “report” that some kids were drinking under the bleachers — most of the “game night” drinking occurs in the parking lot or some other location before (and after) the game.

“Most” kids do NOT do their drinking inside school sponsored events – in plain view of teachers and adults —- this ban has the effect of penalizing everyone for the actions of a very very small minority who might better be monitored by having a security officer make an occasional trip under the bleachers

“Most” adults would not “smuggle” alcohol into a high school event for their underage offspring to consume  (even those who supposedly provide liquor to their children in the privacy of their own homes)—  so this ban effectively penalizes the random parent who totes in his own bottle of water or remaining fast food beverage.

This “ban” will not eliminate the need for staff and security officers to monitor the behavior of the spectators – it will not even reduce the “police” duties of the staff as staff members will now be in the awkward position of “searching” families as they enter the stadium.

Unruly behavior will still have to be dealt with whether it is alcohol fueled or not.  Or are we only going to intervene in disruptions that involve alcohol?

Even if the ban does 100% eliminate drinking “on site” does anyone actually believe that will have any effect on drinking “off-site” – other than possibly increase the chances that they’ll do their drinking in the car on the way to the game?

Bottom line – this strikes me as yet another “control freak”,  yet completely futile, feel good effort to pretend we are taking a firm stand against a very real danger.

Underage, irresponsible drinking is a problem, though I seriously doubt very much of it is occurring inside the stadium at high school football games.

This ban” on outside drinks for everyone is just sort of silly – and more than a little insulting to the rest of the community.

Ultimately, it is behavior that needs to be monitored — alcohol fueled or not.   These “bans” strike me as an abdication of adult responsibility to monitor and educate.

Cindy Vaillancourt

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6 Responses to “Let’s Just BAN Underage Drinking”

  1. General Zod said

    Now that’s just silly. Do they honestly think they will stop the person who hides the booze in their baggy cargos only to slip it into their purchased beverage?

    C’mon.

  2. cynthia vaillancourt said

    Exactly – this is the kind of “policy” that has little chance of deterring the determined “rule-breaker”, but does serve to exert “power” over the law-abiding.

    just silly is exactly the right phrase.

    cindy v

  3. Kem White said

    Gee, it must be tough to be a principal. Do nothing, people complain. Try and take action, people complain about that, too.

    Unruly behavior among teens at football games, underage drinking, disrespect for authority, all of that – all of it – begins with parents who have abdicated their responsibilities as parents. If parents did a better job with their children, this wouldn’t be an issue. Compared to parents, principals and schools have limited control and authority over teens. Yet a great many parents insist it’s not their job to control and discipline their children, but the schools. The principals are responding to a situation withing the bounds of authority they control.

    How about this as a solution? All football games are at 8 AM Saturday morning. The only beverage people will want to bring into the stands is coffee.
    K-

  4. observer said

    How about punishing the perps more severely? If there are real consequences to their actions, that might actually be a deterrent.
    The proposal seems eerily similar to our red light camera programs. They don’t do anything to deter the guy driving drunk that smashes broadside into a car full of children, but they will nail every sucker that happens to drive five feet over that white stop line, for a mere fine of $100 or so. Hey and let’s adjust the timing on the yellow light to get even more violators. Makes you feel a lot safer knowing that they are there though, right?

  5. cynthia vaillancourt said

    Kem White makes a fair point about a certain “darned if you do darned if you don’t mentality”.
    Though I don’t think it applies in this case.

    However, sometimes action for the sake of action is not only ineffective – but counter productive, like in this case where there is unlikely to be any real impact on the problem but it has already had the effect of chipping away at the credibility of the school administration.

    When a rule is met with head shaking and eye rolling from “responsible” parents as well as students – it does not enhance respect for authority… If the goal is to increase respect for authority then this policy is not only ineffective – but has had the opposite effect.

    For those of us who love to help and support school administrators – it is disappointing when they take this route.

    Better ideas for keeping order at football games? Teachers, parents, administrators in the stands – observing and participating, knowing the kids’ names and their families, stepping in when appropriate, responding to actual incidents of bad behavior.

    A worse idea? Moving all games to Saturday morning… a really good example of painting everyone with the same brush and shooting for the lowest common denominator.

    Cindy V

  6. cynthia vaillancourt said

    The question has been raised “what can it hurt?” about banning beverages from football games.

    I believe there are two ways these kind of policies “can hurt” — that is, policies that offer little impact other than “doing something”.

    First, there is the “exhaustion factor” — that people get “tired” of rules and regulations … and the otherwise important topic starts to fade into the background noise.

    Second, policies which do little other than flex the authoritative muscle of the administration undermine the credibility and ultimately the real authority of the administration.

    Now, if the principals implemented the outside beverage policy to reduce trash (also a worthy goal) that would not only make sense, but would probably be effective.

    I challenge the mentality that just because there is a worthy goal any and every action said to be in pursuit of that goal is by definition worthy.

    cindy v

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