The Wisconsin State Journal reported that 71 fans were ejected from the Wisconsin-Arizona State football game at Camp Randall on Saturday, September 18. Quite frankly, I am surprised it wasn’t more. The article states, “ people were cited and ejected for underage drinking, while 22 were ejected but not cited for possession of alcohol or being intoxicated.” There was drinking everywhere.
I met photo-journalist Michael Kienitz by the Gulesserian Rug store at 1:30 on Saturday afternoon, an hour before game time, to capture Wisconsin’s alcohol culture on a football Saturday. I wanted to witness the adept Kienitz and his amazing stedicam contraption firsthand.
After a couple hours documenting the drinking around Camp Randall, I lost sight of Kienitz in the throng of outside patrons at The Stadium bar. I said to the bouncer, “I lost my cameraman,” and he replied, “He followed the Bud girls that way,” pointing in the direction of the elevated stage by the larger than life big screen. The bouncer told me to just stand “there” and he would be back…eventually. I stood on tip toes to try to see over the bobbing heads and waving arms, but I still could not find him.
Finally, I spotted Kienitz on stage with the Bud girls, in all their mini-skirt glory, throwing trinkets of Bud paraphernalia to the crowd. The DJ kept the music going and other brand cheerleaders got on stage. I think the Bacardi girls were next. I was told capacity was something like 2,675 people, which included the outside and inside space. That’s a lot of people in one space to be fueled by alcohol.
We left there and encountered more intoxicated people, beer gardens and tailgate parties. People consistently hammed it up for the camera; “Go Badgers!” was a familiar expression. Some people just yelled, “Yeahhhh!” or made gestures or faces. It is amazing what a camera does to people. It is also amazing how obvious it is that people are impaired/intoxicated/drunk when you are not. We did not fit in. Neither of us was wearing Badger red and we were spawning the throngs of people. It made for interesting filming at times, but clearly set us apart from the masses.
A lot of people were stumbling, weaving and staggering as they walked. A couple of young women were sitting on a wall along Regent Street and taking “hits” from a large bag of wine that a guy was holding up for them. They chugged and he sipped. I was concerned for their safety because they were both so intoxicated. I felt sad for them and wondered if they would end up going to Detox or the ER or just throwing up and passing out.
I wanted to ask people who we saw how much they had had to drink, if they remembered. Two guys who ended up insisting on having their “picture” taken by Kienitz said they had one and a half drinks. That’s pretty original. The generic response is usually “two beers.” I wanted to know how many people had any recollection of how much they had had to drink and then it would be very interesting to have them submit to a preliminary breath test for the actual alcohol concentration.
It is no small wonder that the Badger football games require so many police resources. It is a full day commitment when it is said and done. Does watching football really require inebriation?