I think most people in America get excited about football. It signifies a change in season, unifies a city and its fans, and gives people something to be proud of, especially if their team is able to take home a victory. For college students, football season means this and so much more. There’s nothing quite like waking up at the crack of dawn, getting dressed in your school’s gear, and heading over to the football stadium to start the time honored tradition known as tailgating. That is, unless, you go to Rutgers.
Rutgers University has been the center a lot of controversy this week after the new Athletic Director, Patrick Hobbs, was recorded taking a sip of a beer while addressing the Rutgers’ students. This took place at “The Alley,” which was a newly designated tailgating lot for students near the stadium. A few days after the game against New Mexico which took place on September 17th, Rutgers released a statement saying The Alley was being shut down for “safety concerns.” This news not only quickly spread throughout campus, it also made its way to national news stations such as ESPN and NBC Sports. The not-so funny part is, it’s not the “safety-concerns” that are making the news, it’s the fact that our Athletic Director was holding a can of beer while talking to the crowd of college students. Apparently, someone was offended by Hobbs being awesome and hyping up the crowd even more.
Obviously, the news of the tailgate being shut down did not go over well with the students of Rutgers. Before we had this specific place to tailgate, students would be spread out all over the city of New Brunswick, hopping from backyard to backyard in hopes of eventually making it to the game, (and trust me, after a long morning of partying, a slice of pizza and a nap seems like a much better idea than getting on a packed bus making its way to the stadium.) The Alley, however, made things so much more convenient. When the game started, the party stopped. Since students were already on the same campus as the stadium, there really was no reason to skip the game at that point. But, the best part about The Alley was the way it unified the students. Every student, despite their affiliation, or lack thereof, with a Greek organization, club, or sports team, was able to attend this tailgate. It was a place to have fun, get rowdy, and come together as one, and nothing says school spirit quite like that.
So Rutgers, can we just take a moment to really think about this? Patrick Hobbs did nothing wrong. This was not a work day, he was not in his office, and he was not intoxicated. He was doing exactly what people do during tailgates. The student body loved seeing him being real. We are college students and we are going to tailgate football games in one way or another. Maybe those offended should take a page out of Hobbs’ book and simply relax, grab a cold one, and let us have some fun.