Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Minnesota Passes Bill to Allow Beer and Alcohol Sales at College Sporting Events

For those who are interested in the debate over whether to allow beer and alcohol sales at college sporting events, the State of Minnesota recently passed a bill that would allow for the sale of alcohol in suites for premium ticket holders and in a beer garden for the general public. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the new bill is expected to bring the State of Minnesota $1.5-$2.0 Million in annual revenue.

If Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signs this new bill into law, Minnesota will join Iowa, West Virginia and a growing number of other states in allowing beer and alcohol sales at their college sporting events. This is at the same time that many colleges around the country claim there is a need to crack down on undergraduate students' alcohol consumption.

In a 2010 law review article, David Rosenthal (a former student of mine) and I discuss the inconsistent messages that college athletics send about alcohol use. Does it make sense for the University of Minnesota to arrest underage students for drinking beer on Friday nights, and then to sell beer in its football stadium on Saturday afternoons?

Also, when colleges profit from the sale of beer at their sporting events, are they implicitly using their 'student-athletes' to help peddle the product? If so, can we truly call these college athletes amateurs?