Opinion: Student Responds to Marquise Williams’ Alcohol Comments


UNC quarterback Marquise Williams is an easy-going, fun and care-free person. He isn’t someone to create controversy — most of the time, his production on the field speaks for itself.

But yesterday at ACC Media Day, Williams had some interesting comments about an off-field issue. The comments were not directed at the players, the coaching staff or other teams. He targeted the fans, particularly the student section.

Nov 20, 2014; Durham, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Marquise Williams (12) takes a picture with a fans phone after the Tar Heels beat the Duke Blue Devils 45-20 at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

“I think that is a trend. Some college students want to come and buy beer or get drunk at the football games, and football games don’t allow you to drink (except) in certain stadiums. And certain guys be like, oh, I can watch the game on TV and just get drunk on the couch. And that’s how a lot of college students think. I know a lot of my students who think just like that. And that’s just how people think sometimes. And it’s kind of hurting us because we need our students there. We need our students there. And I ask a lot of students, I was like, you (were) at the game yesterday? He’s like, no,  I was like why not? He was like, I can’t drink. At the game. I’m like, OK.  He was like, I want to get drunk, and watch the game. And they feel like they’re bringing the best energy when their drunk. It kills me, but it’s OK.” — Marquise Williams at ACC Media Day

The “no alcohol” rule may deter some students from attending games, but this is in no way a significant problem. Students already show up drunk to games anyway. If they really want to drink, they get their hands on alcohol before entering the stadium. As a current UNC student, I’ve seen this plenty of times before and during football games in the past three seasons.

More from North Carolina Tar Heels

Have I seen a lowering in student attendance? Yes. But that isn’t because of alcohol. It’s because the team’s performance on the field has decreased each year since 2012. In a five-game stretch last season, the Tar Heels allowed 247 points to its opponents, going 1-4 in those match-ups. For road games, students watch this ineffective play and become disheartened. When watching it in Kenan Stadium, it frustrates them more, even to the point of leaving midway through the third quarter.

More from North Carolina Tar Heels

The solution to keeping students at the game is simple — win more games. That may portray students and other fans as disloyal, but it is the truth. Like Williams, I’ve talked to other students as well. They don’t want to attend games because the football team isn’t performing, and they aren’t worth sitting in the heat or the cold. Students who want alcohol may not necessarily want it to cheer with more fervor. Some students treat the game as a social event and may prefer the alcohol to enjoy themselves, the same way they’d enjoy a party. And this would have little to do with the production on the field.

Most of the schools who do sell alcohol  have sub-par football programs, which means, they are using alcohol to gain more attendance and increase revenue. In 2014, there was no SEC school who sold alcohol. No PAC-12 school either. There were just three ACC schools — Miami, Louisville and Syracuse — and the lone Big Ten school was Minnesota. Even if this list increases in the coming years, it won’t be because of decreasing student attendance. It will simply be to increase revenue. If you have a good football program that wins consistently, you will have no problem getting students to attend games.

I understand Williams’ thoughts, but he seems to be displacing blame for the lack of student attendance. I would’ve preferred him to put the onus on himself and his teammates, not blame alcohol. It’s difficult for students to have passion for UNC football when the last memory is a 35-7 blowout to NC State. It’s embarrassing.

Ben Coley is a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill.