The latest tailgating restrictions imposed by the University of Georgia have conjured up some heated discussion. On the one hand, there are those who feel that this was bound to happen at some point.
After all, you can’t keep treating a place as sacred as North Campus like a cesspool forever, right? I mean, look at the photo (pictured right), the way that place looked after gameday was disgraceful. On the other hand, why punish all for the laziness of a few? That seems unfair too, doesn’t it?
Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with North Campus, let me give a bit of history. The University of Georgia was initially divided into two parts, North and South Campus. The North part of campus was specifically modeled after that of Yale University. The buildings contained therein are, architecturally, some of the oldest and most beautiful structures on campus—weddings have been held there.
The historic, wrought-iron, arch that so many people are familiar with stands at the front of North Campus and it is the most notable point of access to that area of campus. It is positioned just parallel to broad street and holds as much meaning to those who pass through it—freshman are advised against doing so—as those who pass by it on a daily basis. It is the quintessential symbol of the University of Georgia.
That being said, it would be difficult to miss the heaping piles of trash sitting on it following a raucous gameday.
To those of us sitting in the front-row to the daily workings of UGA, it’s well known that current president, Michael Adams, wants the University of Georgia to be known as a school on par with the Ivy Leagues. He has continually sold this idea of Georgia offering an “Ivy League education at half-the price” and, in order to do that, you have to shift the focus away from athletics and more towards academics.
That is tough to do when your football program is easily one of the most profitable ones in college football.
Even more, how do you advance your own academic agendas without ticking people off—particularly those donors who fill the sky suites at Sanford Stadium on Saturdays?
The whole approach puts President Adams in a precarious position because all the building and expansion that he wants to implement cannot happen without the cash cow that is UGA football. A program whose revenues topped more than $65 million in 2009. He needs the fans, the football, and the football money to continue his movement towards institutional legitimacy.
So, what he tries to do is pick his battles and disguise them under the premise of being "good for the university." In 2003, he gained the ire of many a Bulldog fan by pushing out Vince Dooley before the coaching great was ready to go.
Next up, his decision to hire Jim Harrick to coach the basketball team would effectively set the team back several years. After that, he decided to attack the frats and upend them from their long-standing locations in favor of building new digs for the business school.
He followed that up with the limiting of tailgate parking and then came the subtle restrictions to where you could and could not tailgate. All the while, ticket prices went higher and fan treatment sunk lower.
The president, presumably, continued laughing all the way to the bank as more and more of his agendas were pushed through at the inconvenience of students and alumni. Needless to say, his “subtlety” hasn’t made him very many fans at Georgia.
Something had to be done about the trash on North Campus after game days, no doubt about it, no one wants to see such a beautiful place become a makeshift landfill.
However, it seems the administration took the extreme route first instead of doing some of the simpler things—like providing security or more trash cans—again the goal seemed to be to stamp out the fan experience even more in hopes of eliminating the North Campus tailgating all together.
North Campus isn’t the only place in Athens where fans can come together to imbibe, grill, and commune with one another. After all, it would be naive to think that 30-40,000 fans are all making their home on a tract that spans about 2.50 acres.
However, it will diminish that days events for the mature many who could appreciate the historical and aesthetic beauty offered by being there on a Saturday afternoon. For them, these rules are a shame and an injustice.
As for President Michael Adams, I get what he’s trying to do and, in many ways, he has made some major strides towards his goals. However, he may need to start revisiting his approach towards those patrons who keep his tills overflowing with brick and mortar monies because someday they may take their money and allegiances elsewhere.
What’s that old adage again? "Never bite the hand that feeds you." Even English bulldogs will attack if their territory is intruded upon.