Though drinking and tailgating may often be associated with a gameday afternoon, the risks associated with consuming alcohol can affect Ohio State fans both physically and legally.
Heavy drinking in parking lots, however, is also something University Police Deputy Chief Richard Morman said can lead to bigger problems later in Ohio Stadium if left unpunished.
Last year, when the police had few financial resources for games and therefore fewer officers, Morman said he noticed an increase in problems before and after games.
University Police received an increase in complaints from the public last year “not so much about open containers, but about public urination in parking garages. Problems like kids who were beaten up just for wearing Michigan shirts, and of course, all that stuff is fueled by alcohol,” Morman said.
Although University Police doesn’t release the number of officers it dispatches as a matter of policy, Morman said returning resources means more officers on the ground this year. He thinks this has already had an effect in preventing major incidences.
Fourteen alcohol-related citations were also given, mostly for open container violations in parking lots, Morman said.
He said officers are given the discretion of whether to issue citations. Often, they simply tell tailgaters to dump out beers and remind them they were violating the law, he said.
Matt Gusching, a third-year in business and psychology, said drinking should be more tolerated.
“It’s a college campus, and honestly, I don’t blame the people with open containers,” Gusching said. “I feel like gamedays and open containers come hand-in-hand. It’s one of those things that’s kind of unlucky to get caught for.”
Kaitlyn Schuette, a third-year in psychology, acknowledged the problems drinking can cause but also agreed police should be conservative in their enforcement.
“I think in extreme cases they should be looking for it, but if not, they all know well enough around here that it’s going to go on,” Schuette said. “I think in extreme cases they should (penalize for open container violations). If not (extreme), they should just let it slide.”
Schuette also said pre-game drinking likely contributed to the high numbers of heat exhaustion at the game. As temperatures sweltered up to 87 degrees, the Red Cross treated about 160 people at the game, the majority of which had heat-related issues, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
“I think if you’re out there drinking, you’re obviously going to have to have a better chance of getting heat exhaustion than if you weren’t,” Schuette said. “So if you’re hydrated on water, it probably wouldn’t (have) happened.”
Red Cross and OSU Emergency Management officials were unavailable for comment Thursday afternoon.
Sam Harrington contributed to this story.