Drinking At Soccer Tournaments?!?!?

I stumbled across this post over at the NC Soccer Forums and it took me by surprise.

During the lightning/rain delay, a couple of young adult spectators had a ‘tailgate’ party in which beer was consumed in what appeared to be pretty large quantities.

First, in a county park, where there is a no alcohol policy; second, these were people associated with one of the better teams in the U17 age group. The outcome was a couple of Cabarrus County citations for alcohol in the park, after & between the matches – a breath-a-lizer test on the individuals, and a very public display of what not to do in front of your children.

The NOT cool factor in posting this is the fact that many times on here, forumites discuss and giggle over their consumption interests. I have read on several occasions (here on this forum) about the drinking in parking lots of regular season matches and at tournaments.

Now, I love to tailgate and will admit that I’ve tailgated with alcohol at collegiate football games, etc. I’ll even admit that I’ve consumed alcohol in state parks where it’s prohibited. Granted, I understand why it’s banned in many parks – because too many people don’t know when to say when.

But at a kids soccer match? Am I just being naive here? I consume my fair share of beer, but it would never even cross my mind to drink it at a youth soccer tournament. Especially knowing the issues we can have with sober soccer parents sometimes :)

I consume alcohol in front of my kids and they know why I can and they can’t and the impacts of irresponsible drinking. In the evenings after all the matches when we travel to tournaments, you’ll usually find most of our team parents in the hallway or a designated ‘adult’ room drinking beer and socializing while the kids roam about the other hotel rooms in our block playing Playstation, watching movies, having dribbling contests, you name it. The key ‘role model’ issue being responsible consumption and no driving.

But drinking during a youth soccer tournament just seems wrong to me. Tailgate, have a good time, grill some good food, but leave the beer at the hotel!

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  1. Yes, not only is it true, it also happened again prior to U13 girl’s matches on Sunday in Concord and again at the Burlington site for the Challenge Cup (I thought you might know more about that particular incident, being close by).

    I received several VERY nasty notes via u2u on the NC Soccer Forum (www.nc-soccer.net) from people, about me wanting to create a discussion about it, and the moderators actually locked down the thread.

    After speaking with various NCYSA people, apparently it is more of a problem than anyone wants to admit. There is a general policy statement against bring alcoholic beverages to youth matches, but the local authorities have to be the enforcers and there are no further sanctions for the individuals other than what may or may not be meted out by the local officials.

    It is an issue that NCYSA must be prepared to guard against at the final four weekend – how and where, I don’t know, because I do not know that community very well – but it is something that must be addressed by parents and officials without snickers and guffaws.

  2. I was surprised that they locked down the thread unless they thought you’d start naming names or something, which you never threatened to in your posts. I found their response kind of odd. The fact that you got people so stirred up is interesting. Maybe things are different at the Classic level (my oldest is U10 – not quite at that level yet :) ) and it’s something people ‘just do’. But still seems bizarre and inappropriate to me. And this comes from someone who loves to tailgate.

    I just don’t see how people could justify drinking at a youth soccer match – tailgating or not. But in the end, it’s up to the hosting league to police their facilities when they offer to host the events. I know if our league hosted matches for a big event and people were drinking – our Rec Dept would be all over us to call the police if we witnessed it!

  3. Agreed, but alcohol per se is not necessarily a bad thing (even though I rarely drink myself). At our kids’ first soccer tournament, my wife served very weak white wine sangria on the sidelines in a low-key way during the last game (2d day); a coach partook as well–after the game. It served to facilitate the socialization of the parents–many of whom were meeting for the first time. It was little more than glorified fruit and orange juice in plastic cups, with no abuse. She did the same thing during Little League season, except there I think the coaches partook during the game. I think the issue is more abuse and appropriateness rather than alcohol itself. (And I say that as one who is not a fan of alcohol, for health reasons; actually, neither my wife nor I drank any of the sangria at the soccer game.)