Pregaming: The national culture that has infiltrated WHS

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Pregaming: The national culture that has infiltrated WHS

Annie Cerria and Abigail Knaul

Pregaming, the activity of drinking just before a sporting event, has grown into a national tradition. It is now customary for Americans of all ages to drink, tailgate and attend or host parties before professional, collegiate and high school sporting events. This has now become common practice at WHS.

“The first game I attended at the high school was a football game earlier in the year,” an anonymous freshman explained. “My friends and I chose to not drink before because we didn’t see a need to, but when we arrived at the game we felt as though we were the only people who didn’t. Instantly I felt left out and I felt like a loser and felt pressured to start drinking, so the next game my friends and I got a small handle and pregamed.”

According to alcohol.org, 75,000 Americans die each year from substances regularly consumed before, among other things, sporting events.

Pregaming has become a consistent activity before sporting events. An anonymous senior described how large a part pregaming plays when attending sporting events. “For the most part, I pregame before every game, regardless of if it’s a weeknight or weekend,” he explained. “I’m a senior—what do you expect?”

While underage drinking is a problem, the ritual of pregaming is a facet of a larger national culture centered around drinking before sporting events. Big NFL games are often preceded by hundreds of fans gathered in parking lots grilling food and drinking. Before the games on NFL networks, the anchors discussing the upcoming game often do so positioned in front of tailgaters. And, on College GameDay, tailgaters are often interviewed as part of the show.

Nationally, adults are setting a standard for pregaming that local adults are following. “In the past four years, I have been to about five [adults only] tailgates,” said an anonymous senior parent regarding Westfield tailgates. “When the weather is conducive to pregaming and it’s done in a responsible, safe environment, I encourage it since it brings out town and school pride.”

All of this implies to teenagers that tailgating is normal, as it has become a major part of American society. Pregaming has become an expected activity before attending games nationwide, making it a difficult thing to try and eliminate.

If a teenager sees their parents tailgating, watches tailgating being encouraged on television, and is aware of the fact that most other students view it as normal behavior, they will feel pressured to do it too. In order to eliminate the culture of pregaming, one would have to change society as a whole.