Though the football game that followed proved disappointing, the tailgates at the 122nd Harvard-Yale game were not. After nearly a month of debate surrounding Yale’s new tailgate regulations, this year’s tailgates offered little cause for complaint.
The new rules that the University announced in October — including the end of tailgating after halftime as well as a ban on drinking games and standing or sitting on U-Hauls — drew their share of skepticism and ire, but in practice, the regulations did not seem to prevent most attendees from having fun or from drinking responsibly. We believe the University’s alcohol policy at the tailgates was both reasonable and effective, and we also commend the tailgate attendees for acting responsibly and largely regulating themselves.
But while the University’s focus on Gameday alcohol regulation seems to have proven effective, Harvard-Yale saw problems in areas where the Yale administration paid less attention. The issues of crowd control and transportation clearly deserve greater consideration than they received this year.
Overcrowding caused particular problems at the entrances to the Yale Bowl following the halftime exodus from the tailgates. We were puzzled by the decision to open only one gate to the stadium, since officials knew to expect heavy traffic from attendees leaving the tailgates at that time. Herding entrants through a central passage led to complete gridlock within the Bowl, as attendees climbed over railings and one another in an attempt to find seating within a short distance of that central area. These spectacles can easily be eliminated in the future with the addition of ticket-takers and staff at a greater number of gates.
Before and after The Game, buses driving students to and from the Bowl should also be better coordinated, better organized and supplied in greater numbers. The fact that many students were so discouraged by disorganization and crowding that they walked to and from the Bowl rather than wait for a bus is disconcerting, but the dangerous practices in which other students engaged — such as pushing in and around bus doors, boarding from the rear and attempting to board or exit moving buses — are a safety concern that should be just as pressing for the University as the possibility of excessive drinking. Besides simply hiring more bus drivers, greater coordination and publicity of busing schedules can also help solve this problem in 2007.
Harvard-Yale weekend draws uniquely large crowds to the Bowl largely because of the universal appeal of social gatherings such as tailgates, but also because some of us actually want to watch football. We are grateful for the attitude with which the University has approached the task of reforming its tailgate policy, but we also hope they will devote the same prudence to all aspects of The Game.