Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Football Feast

“Behold the tailgate party. The pinnacle of human achievement. Since
the dawn of parking lots, man has sought to stuff his guts with food
and alcohol in anticipation of watching others exercise.” ---Homer

If there’s a better place on earth to tailgate on a fall football
Saturday than the Rose Bowl, I have yet to find it.

No trash strewn, heat radiating asphalt parking lots for this fan.
Give me a spot on the Brookside golf course, under a sprawling oak
tree, with good food and good companionship. It’s enough to make
watching a mediocre UCLA football team seem almost pleasant.

In fact, at the Rose Bowl, and at many college games, tailgating is
THE event, football be damned.

That’s why people camp out in the Arroyo and never enter the stadium.
They’ll eat, drink and commune with nature while listening to the
game on radio or watching it on TV.

That’s why some people arrive eight hours before game time. Many
bring elaborate cooking gear and what appears to be the entire
contents of their living rooms to stage elaborate feasts.

Talk about all the comforts of home: I’ve seen guys with satellite
dishes running off portable generators to enhance the TV viewing
experience. I once saw a guy with his own porta-potty towed on a
trailer behind his car. I’ve seen RVs that look like the presidential
suite at a Four Seasons hotel on wheels.

I’ve seen brats and beer, I’ve seen linen and silver.

I’ve seen gracious visiting fans (Alabama) and obnoxious ones

But after being engaged in the Rose Bowl tailgating ritual for 28
years, I can truthfully say I haven’t experienced a single incident
where my enjoyment was ruined by unruly fans. Not one.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t trouble occasionally. People drink.
Sometimes they get rowdy. It’s a football game, not a fashion show.

Pasadena police say they average nine arrests at each game, six for
being drunk in public, three for ticket scalping. So that’s six
belligerent boozers out of a crowd of between 60,000-80,000 people.

Statistically, you’re not going to see a lot of bad behavior.

Now, however, because of one ugly incident that occurred last year
before a UCLA-USC game in which two people were stabbed, Rose Bowl
officials are acting like they’re dealing with a Hell’s Angels beer

Starting this season, alcohol consumption is now banned in all
tailgating sections after kickoff, and the parking lots will open to
the public six hours before kickoff instead of eight.

Loud music, music with inappropriate language and drinking out of
glass containers are also prohibited (which means if I want to enjoy
a glass of nice pinot noir, I’ll have to consume it skid row style
out of a paper bag or, worse, a plastic cup).

Playing of games that involve the consumption of alcohol or use of
alcohol-related paraphernalia are prohibited. (Paraphernalia? I
assume that means my corkscrew in addition to my wine glass. The
season hasn’t even started and I’m in danger of becoming a
three-strike violator).

The parking lots will be patrolled by Pasadena police and by
green-clad "tailgating ambassadors" on bikes who will “provide
information and assistance and to ensure that tailgaters comply with
established guidelines.”

Ambassadors? Please. These are rent-a-cops who are there to make sure
you toe the line.

This was inevitable, I suppose, given recent acts of fan violence at
Candlestick Park in San Francisco and Dodger Stadium where tailgating
bans didn’t save Bryan Stow from a savage beating.

But the restrictions here are an overreaction. Bruin tailgaters are
so laid back they would probably get out-partied by BYU.

Call me a homer but I really resent Rose Bowl football fans being
lumped in with a bunch of sociopathic NFL jerks or the goons who have
taken up residence at Dodger games.

Yeah, we had a problem at the Rose Bowl and the guy responsible is
doing 15 years in state prison.

Unfortunately, one of the victims has filed a lawsuit, asking the
taxpayers of Pasadena to cough up $25 million to alleviate his pain
and suffering.

More than the act of violence itself, that’s what has led to these

Let’s hope for continued good behavior at the Rose Bowl. If there is,
“restrictions” and “ambassadors” will be unnecessary.

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