Parents and Families

University of Michigan football stadium

Football Saturdays are a big deal in Ann Arbor. Many alumni and students say Michigan football is one of the reasons they chose to study at the University of Michigan. Beautiful fall weather, a sea of maize and blue, invigorating chants and cheers, and celebrating friendships set the stage for an enjoyable game day experience.

A downside of football Saturdays is the increase in harmful drinking, resulting in negative consequences for drinkers and non-drinkers alike. U-M has a comprehensive harm reduction plan for alcohol and other drug (AOD) prevention. This strategic plan promotes a safe and fun campus and community environment that involves the collaboration of many university units, including health promotion, community engagement, and law enforcement.

Some parents report the pressure to drink on football Saturdays is too intense for them or their student to do much about. The reality is many students and families do not participate in harmful drinking. U-M is proud to support students in recovery, and opportunities abound where students, families, and fans can participate in game day and campus activities and explore the beautiful and the city of Ann Arbor without alcohol as the focus.

If families and students choose to drink, here are some ideas on how to reduce harm, enjoy the game, and feel great the next day.

  • Want to talk to your student about alcohol use? Check out this Family Matters article on ways you can talk with your student about expectations, values, and intentions of alcohol and other drug use. Strong, positive family relationships are a protective factor in reducing harmful drinking in college students, and studies show that on-going AOD conversations lead to fewer negative consequences.
  • Hosting a tailgate party? Providing lots of football-themed food is a great place to start, but the Ann Arbor Campus Community Coalition (A2C3), a city-wide effort to address harmful AOD use in town, suggests this toolkit to create a safe and inclusive environment. Be sure to include a festive EANAB! Equally Attractive Non-Alcoholic Beverages (or mocktails) provide a fun and creative alternative at any party.
  • Want to re-live the glory days of youth? Go for it! Sharing stories about failing an exam or making life-long friends lets your student know that these are normal parts of adult life.  However, when parents glorify or romanticize youthful drinking experiences, the student’s likelihood of engaging in high-risk AOD use increases. The stories you tell impact your student’s decisions.
  • Is there an app for that? There is, and it’s free for students and fans! The Stay in the Blue (SIB) app was created by U-M students to allow users to keep their blood alcohol content level at .06 or below. The app aims to reduce harm and provide resources for individuals who drink as well as non-drinkers. Here are some SIB tips:
    • Eat before drinking
    • Measure and count drinks
    • Set standard drink limit for the occasion
    • Nondrinkers are always in the blue

And lastly, want to be part of the classiest college football fans in the country?

  • Treat everyone with respect - fellow Wolverines, visitors to campus, even those who are cheering for the other team.
  • Be a positive fan. Avoid the use of foul language, obscene gestures, messages, and threats. Don't bring apparel or signs with profane or abusive language to the game. 
  • Don't be a bystander. If one of your friends gets carried away, use your influence to discourage their inappropriate behavior. 
  • If you see someone in trouble or not being treated with respect, get help. Law enforcement can help everyone have a positive experience at the game and in Ann Arbor.
  • Know the game-day guidelines before you make your way to the Big House, and of course, Go Blue!


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