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The NCAA doesn’t let you drink alcohol at March Madness games, but you can always get creative

It’s a stupid rule, so let’s get advice from a few experts.

Rhode Island v Creighton Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

You know what’s great? The March Madness basketball tournament every year. You know what’s also great? Watching that tournament while drinking an ice cold alcoholic beverage. Unfortunately, if you attend a game during the NCAA tournament, you aren’t able to do this glorious thing.

Wait, what? Aren’t these games typically played at arenas where alcohol is sold?

Yes, which makes this more excruciating. You see, according to NCAA rules, alcoholic beverages can’t be sold at any championship events, even though some college stadiums sell alcohol during college games:

31.1.15 Availability of Alcoholic Beverages. Alcoholic beverages shall not be sold or otherwise made available for public consumption at any championship event sponsored by or administered by the Association, nor shall any such beverages be brought to the site during the championship (during the period from the time access to the site is available to spectators until all patrons have left the facility or area used for competition).

All the beer kiosks will probably still be there, but there won’t be any golden liquid flowing out of those taps. This fact is forgotten seemingly each year by March Madness patrons, it seems:

The same goes for Final Fours and the national championship in the tournament, too. When I went four years ago in Dallas, the only way you could get alcohol was if you knew someone with a suite (thank you Sweet Lord Baby Jesus that I did, and I got to partake while Florida was getting creamed by UConn.)

That doesn’t mean fans don’t take it upon themselves to institute workarounds.

In addition to the usual methods, here’s the No. 1 overall seed of sneaking in booze:

And another No. 1 seed:

Plus other ideas:

The NCAA tournament isn’t the only event deprived of this.

Countless other host sites of NCAA championships typically sell alcohol at other sporting events.

The FCS football national championship in Frisco, Texas is played at Toyota Stadium, which even has craft beer flowing throughout the stadium otherwise.

In 2015-16, the men’s lacrosse championship was hosted by Lincoln Financial Field, where the Philadelphia Eagles play, and we all know there’s alcohol aplenty here. The same went for Xcel Energy center in St. Paul for a men’s DI ice hockey championship, Orlando City SC Stadium for women’s soccer in 2016-17, and the Sprint Center in Kansas City for women’s volleyball last December.

The NCAA’s control over beverages extends to non-alcoholic drinks as well, due to corporate sponsorships.

During championships, the NCAA only wants brands that pay it ad revenue to be present on broadcasts. Sure, Bud Light would probably love to have “dilly dilly” [insert heavy sigh] cups visible on TV, but since the NCAA doesn’t have a sponsorship with Bud Light, that’s not going to fly. Yes, that sounds heavy-handed and odd, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles here.

It’s so thoroughly branded, even some NCAA cups aren’t allowed:

The 2016 tournament generated $1.24 billion of national TV ads, a record, up 4.7 percent from the year before. Corporate sponsorships are actually a big part of the whole tournament:

Companies pay the NCAA big money to attach their names to the 21-day championship, and they don’t want to share the spotlight with sponsors that normally inhabit the venues.

No detail is too small — not even the sodas that officials, coaches and media drink courtside. Signs in the hallway outside warn: “Only NCAA cups allowed beyond this point.”

”The sponsors have a lot invested,” said George Belch, a marketing professor at San Diego State. “They want consumers thinking about their brand and nothing else.”

NCAA officials would not disclose how much they receive from the tournament’s 18 corporate partners. But marketing researchers say March Madness ranks with the Super Bowl, Olympics, and World Cup as one of the most valuable properties in sports.

The good news though, is that the NCAA is open to reconsidering this no-alcohol policy.

In November, the NCAA unanimously passed an extension for the continuance of bylaw allowing a “pilot program” for selling beer and wine to patrons at certain NCAA championships:

The sites that would be allowed to sell alcohol must already be set up to sell alcohol for non-NCAA events. For instance, you couldn’t roll out a cooler or a keg and start selling beers in a field at the NCAA cross country championship event.

The Division I council is expected to study the issue and report back to the board with a concrete proposal to sell beer and wine at some of its championship events — likely including the men’s and women’s Final Fours, sources said.

The Division I board of directors said its action was the result of favorable data gathered regarding fan experience and the reduction of alcohol-related incidents at championship events that were part of last year’s pilot program that allowed the sale of beer and wine.

“Several of our Division I member schools are selling alcohol at their campus-sponsored, regular-season events,” said Eric Kaler, president at the University of Minnesota and chairman of the Division I board of directors. “Moving toward alcohol sales at championships only makes sense from both a fan experience and safety perspective.”

So while you’re wishing you were drinking an ice cold beer or your favorite mixed drink while watching your team play in the tournament live, just hang onto the fact that one day soon, this could become a reality.

What’s your go-to method for sneaking booze into a stadium?