Stinking Up the Stadium–A Bama Tradition

Photo by Domenico Bandiera on

England’s King James I described cigar smoking in as “a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black stinking fume thereof nearest resembling the horrible stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless.”

Anyone watching the broadcast of the Alabama Tennessee football game would’ve heard ESPN‘s play-by-play commentator Jason Bennetti say, “It looks like fireworks went off here with all the haze, but it’s cigar smoke.”

Images of the parents of one of Alabama’s star players Bryce Young had been frequently shown during the broadcast. Up until the smoke began to fill the stadium they had been beaming with pride. Bryce was born to Julie and Craig Young in Pasadena, California. The countenance of the Californians seemed to shift towards the game’s final minutes.

Perhaps the Youngs had not been familiar with the Alabama football tradition of fans smoking victory cigars every time Bama beats the Volunteers?

CBS/42‘s Tim Reid reported on the “Hate Week” tradition. Reid wrote:

Reagan Starner is the owner of R & R Cigars and says hate week is one of the busiest weeks for business. He says so many Bama fans purchase cigars to smoke after the game and hopes Alabama wins again.

“It is coolest man and there’s nothing like Bryant Denny going up in a cloud of smoke as the clock strikes zero, if you’re in the student section, a little before it strikes zero. But it’s a classy and fun tradition,” said Starner.

USAToday Sport‘s Hannah Stephens wrote about the stinky cigar tradition. She credited Alabama athletic trainer Jim Goostree as the man who initiated the practice of smoking cigars in the locker room. After the victory of Alabama over Tennessee in 1961 Goostree danced naked in the locker room–with a cigar in his mouth.

Stephens reported that, although there had been a “no smoking” rule for the athletes in the locker room, the National Collegiate Athletic Association had made an exception to this rule for the Tennessee rivalry.

Although the University of Alabama had a “smoke free campus,” fans in the stadium had felt free to ignore the smoking ban. The University’s policy states:

The health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff is one of the highest priorities for The University of Alabama. As a result, over the past two decades, we have taken steps to help protect the campus community from the dangers of second-hand smoke. Effective Jan. 1, 2015, The University of Alabama will extend its smoke-free policy to include all facilities, grounds and parking areas on the UA campus.

The University’s COVID policy on mask wearing in the stadium reportedly had been ignored as well. Masks had reportedly rarely been seen in the indoor club areas or elevators.

Smokers had altered their smoking habits because of the Covid pandemic, fearing that they would have had a “greater risk for serious complications from COVID-19.” Many fans at Bryant-Denny have seemed to be oblivious to any such dangers.

Due to a federal executive order, as reported by NBC/15‘s Christian Hinkel, the University of Alabama System had required COVID-19 vaccinations for employees. Unlike many other schools, the University had not required that football fans show proof of vaccination. Requiring that masks be worn in indoor stadium areas had been as far the University would go.

Included among the notables who are associated with cigars have been Winston Churchill, Fidel Castro, George Burns and Saddam Hussein. Of course former President Bill Clinton was notorious for his use of a cigar, as reported by the Pew Research Center.

Perhaps someday stinky cigar smoking in Bryant-Denny Stadium would not only be recognized as a health hazard, but would also be considered to be in bad taste.


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