by | Sep 27, 2009 | Comment, Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

The video featured two attractive women.

It was shot by an onlooker.

It hit YouTube by storm.

You’re no doubt thinking "sex," but let me assure you the women kept their clothes on. Unfortunately, that was the only ladylike thing about them.

On the video, they appeared intoxicated, swore like sailors, got in fights, then screamed, shoved and cursed until security guards finally took them away, one in handcuffs.

This was not a women’s penitentiary. It was a Lions game. You can argue that watching the Lions might make anyone go ballistic. But I’m guessing these women, like many football fans, had another reason for their belligerence:

They were hammered before the game began.

And you could shoot this video every Sunday.

A game day tradition

Look, it’s bad enough that most NFL games begin at 1 p.m. and that people are buying beers before kickoff. But thanks to tailgating, many fans are blotto before they hand over their tickets. One day, we’ll explain to Martians our tradition of arriving hours before a football game, sitting in cold parking lots in fold-up beach chairs, swigging beers and grilling fatty foods between bumpers of pickups (at which point the Martians will bolt to their spaceships).

But, meanwhile, make no mistake. The fists may fly in the stands. But they get lubricated in the parking lots.

This will not make me popular with Budweiser, Miller or millions of parking lot drinkers, but what is the point of going to a football game for the expressed purpose of getting wasted? It’s one thing to be out at night and one beer leads to another. But when you get up at 8, are parked by 9, and are three beers deep by 10, you have issues.

I blame the tailgaters, but I also blame the teams – pro and college. By encouraging a seven-hour drinking experience, football now sees its stadiums marred with behavior like this past week’s wildly popular YouTube moment (billed as "Two Drunk Girls Kicked out of Vikings vs Lions Game").

When you watch this sad debacle, you see how two guards have to struggle to get one enraged woman under control. It’s not easy. People crowd around, getting bumped, getting angry, making threats. And that’s just one woman! You can imagine when five or six burly guys are blitzed to the point of confrontation.

In stadiums with upper levels, railings and long steps, we flirt with disaster every week.

A call to stop the boozing

But it never stops. If you dare suggest curbing tailgating, the populace rises up in arms. Last year, I read angry letters to the editor when a San Diego stadium cut tailgating from five hours to four before the game.

Five hours to four?

Now I know that many people – maybe most people – handle tailgating responsibly. They eat, laugh, they drink, but keep it under control.

But if you’ve recently been in NFL stands – especially with kids – and heard the drunken swearing, the macho threats, or worse, been doused with beer or flecked with vomit, then you know how the minority ruin it for the majority.

And that is not justified.

Which is why the NFL teams – and their cities – should ban the tailgate booze. You want to sit in a parking lot, eat, laugh, go ahead. But no drinking. That’s right. I said it. No drinking. It’s not a God-given right. It’s their parking lots. Sure, enforcing it might be a pain. So is pulling apart a drunken melee in the bleachers. As for those who say, "Aw, the people will just drink at home," well, they could do that now. My guess is it’s not as much fun getting hammered alone.

Not so long ago, there were blue laws that outlawed alcohol sales on Sundays. Now on Sundays, booze rules and women are handcuffed. I’m not saying everyone needs to be in church. But when loaded, wasted, hammered or blitzed are the words people associate with pregame, it’s a problem.

And when it winds up in the stands, it’s everybody’s problem.

For tickets to Mitch Albom’s charity book launch for "Have a Little Faith" on Wednesday at the Fox Theatre, call 800-745-3000 or go to (More details, Page 11C.) Contact MITCH ALBOM: 313-223-4581 or


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New book, The Little Liar, arrives November 14. Get the details »

Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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