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Barta: Irresponsible few reflect poorly on Hawkeye tailgating

BY GARY BARTA - GUEST OPINION | OCTOBER 07, 2009 7:20 AM

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As I enjoy my fourth season as athletics director at the UI, I appreciate more than ever before the special feel of “Kinnick Magic.” I continue to be amazed and appreciative of the passion shown by Hawkeye fans. We truly enjoy a special game-day environment.

With that said, there is something that has bothered me and that I’ve wanted to address for some time. It’s something about which everyone is aware but seems taboo to discuss. Among the tens of thousands of Hawkeye fans who do it right on game days, I am discouraged, and sometimes downright disgusted, by a small minority of alcohol abusers who ruin the game-day experience and give Hawkeye tailgating a bad name.

Each week, we deal with hundreds of fans who abuse alcohol to the point of embarrassment — and in many cases endanger themselves and others around them. We eject from Kinnick Stadium, and sometimes have to place under arrest, dozens of people who drink so much they can’t stand on their own, pass out, are underage, throw up on the fans around them, urinate in public, etc.

While I apologize for my graphic descriptions, these scenarios occur with far too much frequency and simply aren’t acceptable.

Again, I am a huge fan of tailgating. I believe it is a special part of the college-football tradition. I am also very comfortable with the safe, legal, and responsible use of alcohol. But I am not comfortable with allowing those who abuse this privilege to ruin the experience for the rest of us.

In advance of Saturday’s Homecoming game, I want to thank the overwhelming majority of Hawkeye fans who tailgate responsibly, cheer appropriately in the stands, respect their neighbors in the parking lots, respect our campus, and respect the private property of our friends in the neighborhoods that are adjacent to our wonderful football stadium.

I want to thank everyone who contributes in a positive way to the game-day experience at historic Kinnick Stadium. I know you share our goal to have the best tailgate, game-day, and postgame college football environment in the country. I would argue we already do — and I don’t want the actions of a very small minority to ruin it.

I also want to be so bold to ask that — if you are going to the game on Saturday — you assist the UI in our efforts to maintain the family atmosphere that makes a day at Kinnick so very special. If you see a fan engaging in inappropriate behavior, please don’t hesitate to call the UI police.

Our staff will double its efforts this weekend to make certain everyone at Kinnick Stadium and in the areas that surround it have the very best game-day experience possible. However, we can’t be everywhere and would appreciate your assistance if and when it’s needed.

Last, I want to ask that very small number of fans who choose to not behave in a responsible, positive way on game days to consider raising their personal standards. I guarantee you will enjoy your game day and the game itself much, much more.

As always, go Hawks!

Gary Barta is the Hawkeye athletics director.


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