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Sobering Thoughts

You've read about it at the Georgia Sports Blog.  You've read about it at The M Zone.  You may be considering buying one.  It's . . . the Beer Belly.  

This device is the latest innovation in the ongoing struggle between fans who wish to drink alcohol in college stadiums on football Saturdays and security personnel charged with the duty of keeping spirits outside the gates.  As its name implies, the invention rests under the wearer's shirt and across his stomach, giving the appearance of a paunch, but it is actually filled with liquor for the wearer's consumption.  

Admittedly, this is a clever creation.  However, I, for one, will not be buying a Beer Belly, nor will I be engaging in any other subterfuge for the purpose of smuggling alcohol into Sanford Stadium.  

Probably not the sorts of flasks you'd want to try sneaking past security.

While I am not an anti-tailgating prude of sort unfortunately ensconced in the president's office at the University of Georgia, I would argue against mixing alcohol and football, for three reasons:  

1.  The folks with whom you go to football games aren't necessarily the same folks with whom you ought to do your drinking.  There's nothing wrong with spending a Saturday afternoon in the stadium alongside the same buddies with whom you will be spending your Saturday evening downtown.  However, one of the nice things about sporting events is that they are good family events.  

In addition to going to football games with my friends from college, I also attend games with my parents, my parents-in-law, my wife, my sisters-in-law, my niece, and my nephews.  Next September, I am hoping to take my son to his first actual college football game.  Needless to say, these are not the folks in front of whom a fellow ought to be imbibing, especially not to excess.  

2.  College football ought to be adequate to arrest your attention and allow you to have a good time.  One of the reasons I liked Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium exponentially more than I like Turner Field is that the former was an architecturally unimaginative cookie-cutter ballpark that was useful for nothing but watching a major league baseball game.  

Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, before the mother ship called it home.

There simply was nothing else to occupy your attention, so you were left with nothing to do but watch the dadgum game.  I doubt whether anyone under the age of 15 has ever watched so much as a whole inning at a stretch in Turner Field, which is an amusement park that just happens to have a baseball game going on in the middle of it.  

Sports are worthy of our attention and deserving of our concentration all by themselves.  I don't need any cheerleaders, baton twirlers, dance teams, or flag corps.  I don't need any halftime shows consisting of Earth, Wind & Fire medleys or Andrew Lloyd Webber tributes.  I can't stand "The Wave" and I'm not entirely certain anyone who brings a beach ball to a sporting event even deserves the courtesy of a warning shot.  

I'm there to watch a game.  I need the national anthem, the alma mater (which I can sing without having to read the lyrics off of the scoreboard, by the way), Sousa marches by the Redcoat Band, former players on the field at halftime, a hot dog, a Coke in a plastic souvenir cup that will remain usable after 10 years of being run through the dishwasher, and football.  

"Stars and Stripes Forever," si; "Phantom of the Opera," no!

I have nothing against drinking, but I don't want my senses dulled while I'm watching a football game.  I don't need distractions of any kind; I just want to watch the dang game.  

3.  I'm an obnoxious enough Georgia fan when I'm sober.  It just so happened that I had a Florida fan sitting in front of me in Alltel Stadium in 1997.  I never said a word to him; I just cheered for my team.  Admittedly, I was giving Steve Spurrier and (particularly) Bob Stoops the business from the upper deck as the 'Dawgs took an early lead, but I never directed a word of it to the guy in front of me.  

At the start of the second half, the Gators mounted a comeback.  When the Orange and Blue took the lead, this guy started letting me have it.  I don't mean that he hurled the same sorts of insults at my team and our coach that I had been hurling at his team and their coach; I mean this guy was turning around and directing his trash talk specifically at me.  

Florida fullback Rod Frazier scored a touchdown with 6:42 remaining in the third quarter to give the Gators a 17-14 advantage.  The guy in front of me spewed venom in my direction for the next five minutes and 19 seconds, until Robert Edwards made the score 21-17.  After that, it was 24-17 . . . then 30-17 . . . then 37-17.  

The gentleman seated in front of me did not have a good fourth quarter.  

Thank you, Robert Edwards, for giving me the opportunity to talk a little smack back to that obnoxious Gator fan.  Also, winning the game was nice, too.

I was stone cold sober and enjoying every minute of it.  If I'd been drinking, one or the other of us might not have made it out of Jacksonville alive.  

In my opinion, therefore, a fellow ought to keep his drinking and his football separate.  Fun time with your family, concentration on the game, and surviving to see Sunday morning all mitigate in favor of sober Saturdays in Sanford Stadium.  Don't drink and root.  

Go 'Dawgs!