Why Doesn’t LSU Just Get Out of the Education Business and Get Into the Entertainment Business?
Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama are going to play for the national championship of college football. Of course the teams have already played each other once, a lackluster game won by LSU. And since neither teams has played football in over a month the quality of play is not expected to be any better.
But none of this matters to the big football schools and the tens of millions of dollars a successful football program generates. Not only that, the reputation the school gets from it football program can provide it with huge marketing opportunities. Do some of these marketing opportunities involve promoting products detrimental to education and the welfare of students? Absolutely, but because there is money involved, that’s not a relevant point.
Case in point, LSU is lending its name to a brand of beer. The opportunity exists because of the success of the football team and the fact that LSU fans drink a lot, a whole lot.
All six games at Tiger Stadium in
this season drew more than 90,000 fans. While beer isn't sold inside, the parking lots remain jammed during the action. Baton Rouge, La.
It's not uncommon for tailgates to have full bars—with some stations serving as many as 200 guests with bourbon, gin, vodka, scotch, Bloody Marys, mimosas and up to 25 cases of beer.
The same ethic applies to road games: In September, LSU and its fans traveled to
, which has one of the few college stadiums that serves alcohol. West Virginia
According to a school spokesman, Mountaineer Field sold over $120,000 in beer alone that night—even though parts of the stadium sold out of cold Bud Light around halftime. Not only was that figure 33% higher than the figure for the next-highest game, it accounted for 23% of the season's total beer sales over seven games.
Since a lot of these fans are students, and a lot of these students are probably under age boys and girls imbibing illegally, and since a lot of this drinking is probably binge or excessive drinking which is not conducive to good health, a decent and caring university might be concerned and work to reduce the drinking. At LSU the University sees this as a way to make money.
Rather than making a push for temperance, LSU is considering a plan to cash in on the situation. The Tin Roof Brewing Company, a microbrewery near LSU's campus, announced a partnership this summer with the university that may result in what could be a first for a major football program: an officially licensed school beer. . .
The partnership has the support of LSU chancellor Mike Martin, a school spokesman said, and it will be voted on by the LSU Board of Supervisors in coming months. The university will collect a 10% royalty fee.
Now how in the world does a public state university justify such action?
That cut from beer sales is "no different" than taking a position in selling t-shirts, said Charles D'Agostino, the executive director of the Louisiana Business & Technology Center, an arm of LSU's business school that helps develop revenue streams for the state.
Really! Let’s see the last time anybody ever looked wearing a t-shirt did not result in liver damage, in anti-social behavior, in an inability to drive that could result in injury or death to the driver and others, and as far as anyone knows, no person has ever become so addicted to t-shirts that they have ruined their lives and their family’s lives.
But none of that matters where big time money can be made. It does, however, provide a research issue for LSU in the event it ever returns to the mission of a college, that is, education and research. The question is this: Is there anything a big time athletic program will not do to cash in?
Get back to us when you have an answer LSU.