October is the unofficial HBCU homecoming season, and it has been a memorable one so far. The action on the field has been amazing as the visitors have pulled off several upsets. And of course the marching band season has garnered a lot of attention due to the fact that there are national championships on the line.
Not all of the action is on the field, though, or even in the stadium. Tailgating continues to get bigger and bigger each year as people enjoy food, fun and fellowship more than ever as the height of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to move further into the rear-view. In fact, the tailgating numbers at many HBCUs — if tabulated — would rival or outpace the number that entered into football stadiums.
However, a few incidents this HBCU homecoming season have shown how something as awesome as tailgating can become a strain on our institutions.
Norfolk State University held its homecoming last week, culminating in the football game against Morgan State. Nearly 25,000 people piled into William “Dick” Price Stadium to see NSU take on and — and lose to — Morgan State.
Beyond the stadium gates however, the tailgates were popping. NSU instituted a $30 entry fee (for non-students) to the tailgating area in an effort to cash in on its popularity.
Things went well enough that NSU sold out of all its wristbands as a crowd waited to get in. Several videos online show would-be tailgaters looking to scale the fence to get in and ultimately taking them down to gain entry.
There haven’t been any reports of injuries and the school has not put out a statement regarding the incident via its University communications department. HBCU Gameday reached out to NSU athletics regarding this event as well as a fight that took place between the Morgan State football team and Norfolk State Spartan Legion Marching Band.
This comes on the heels of reports of similar behavior in and around other homecomings. To some, they appear harmless considering no one has been reported to be seriously hurt. But crowd control and costs are a reality that those in charge of our institutions must think about on a daily basis.
Of course, all HBCUs are not the same. And neither are tailgating policies. Some HBCUs have had similar policies on the books for years in an attempt to monetize their tailgating experiences, while others are just beginning to admit them. Still, other HBCUs such as Winston-Salem State University allow students, alumni and community members to get the full tailgate experience for little to nothing if they aren’t the ones getting the tailgate spot or parking.
Some question whether HBCUs should be charging for entry to tailgating spaces at all. Many argue that HBCUs are pillars of the black community and should not charge people for simply having a good time.
To those people, a serious question must be asked. Where else can thousands of people congregate, eat and drink all they like and linger for hours at a time — for free?
The security costs alone can get pricey for HBCUs as we live in a violent world were anything can happen. While it is true HBCUs are community pillars and an important part of the Black community, they are also businesses with bottom lines and liability. Security guards don’t come free, and the bigger the gathering, the more needed to make sure things are secure which means more costs to already-cash strapped universities.
As the 2023 HBCU homecoming season comes to an end, don’t be surprised if more costs and more security are coming in 2024.
Source link : hbcugameday.com