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UF-UGA: "World's Largest Outdoor Death Trap"

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For Florida fans, at least.

The Gainesville Sun gets in the holiday mood this morning with not one but two ghoulish stories meant to instill fear over the death of a 27-year-old Florida fan who fell down a flight of stairs during Saturday's win over Georgia - the third death associated with the game in as many years. Specific concerns include whether "Jacksonville can continue to function as a safe host for the game" and what lessons the city can learn from Daytona Beach, which last year hosted a record 20 fatalities during its annual Bike Week, an event a Halifax Medical Center spokesman said produces "as many trauma patients in 10 days an average month" (this does not include, apparently, any casualties associated with the city's Biketoberfest).

From the former article, on the death of Randall Scott Amos:

Amos' fatal fall down a flight of stairs at Tailgate Bar and Grill came one year after Thomas Brown, a 23-year-old UF student, was beaten to death after the game. Brown's father, also named Tom Brown, has said the game should be moved from Jacksonville in light of ongoing safety issues that the city can't seem to remedy.

Brown's death was preceded in 2004 by that of David Ferguson, a 19-year-old UF student who fell to his death from a downtown parking garage.

Alcohol was deemed a factor in both Brown's and Ferguson's deaths. The Medical Examiner's Office in Jacksonville said Monday that the cause and manner of Amos' death was pending and that a toxicology report hadn't been completed. No foul play was suspected in Amos' death, the Sheriff's Office reported. An investigation is continuing.

(Emphasis is SMQ's)

The presence of alcohol in a fall from any establishment named the "Tailgate Bar and Grill" in the midst of an event devotedly dubbed "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" gets significantly better odds than the prospect of a sober tumble. SMQ stoically accepts that horrible accidents outside official control happen every day and therefore mocks such an overreaction as moving the game from its traditional site as space-filler bordering on fear mongering, since random tragedies like falls and beatings can and do occur in pretty much any city. But when such reaction is inevitable, it's much less difficult to oppose the official crusade against the "Cocktail Party" moniker in context, whatever the fans want to do. How many other football rivalries have any sorts of death, much less alcohol-related, associated with them three straight years? And the one that does happens to vehemently carry the "Cocktail Party" tag?

If you asked him off the record, UGA president/crusader Michael Adams would probably say he thinks, as SMQ imagines most people would, the deaths are coincidental and possible anywhere; the Cocktail Party has hit a morbid string of bad luck. But if SMQ was an official who had to answer to newspaper columnists about the culture of such an event, he'd distance himself from the name, too.