In Centre, Pa., football game tailgating rules are broken or ignored

UNIVERSITY PARK — Outside Beaver Stadium before the Penn State-Ohio State game last Saturday, an 18-year-old woman dives head first into the dirt and passed out for several minutes, prompting police officers to call an ambulance.

"She’s bad," said Penn State police Capt. Bill Moerschbacher. "She’s even having a hard time sitting down."

At other parties, food is cooking over beds of hot charcoal, fans drink from glass beer bottles and tents are staked into the ground. It doesn’t take long during a walk around the tailgating parties before any game to find that many people either don’t know about or choose to ignore Penn State’s tailgating rules.

Take the rules on no drinking during the game and no glass bottles on the grass.

Tony Urban, of Pottsville, thinks those rules are misguided.

"As long as the alcohol doesn't get out of control. As long as you're responsible, you can handle it," Urban said from a tailgating party Saturday.

The Centre Daily Times took a look at how the rules are being followed — or ignored — after a few incidents earlier this season raised questions about the conduct of some fans. In September, a group of tailgaters became rowdy and assaulted state police liquor enforcement officers as they checked the IDs of young-looking tailgaters. Also that month, police say a Virginia man driving drunk through a tailgating lot nearly hit several pedestrians, including several children who were pulled out of his path.

The CDT sent reporters and other observers into tailgate lots during two home games. They found that portable generators, canopies staked in the ground, massive tailgates blocking lanes, flying footballs and glass bottles in grassy areas — all against the rules — were common sights.

Of the more than 100,000 people who turn out for a typical game day, most don’t cause trouble for fellow tailgaters or police. But when rule-breaking was going on, CDT observers saw little evidence of enforcement.

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