Public Health

Alcohol Consumption at Sporting Events

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Among fans who attend live sporting events, drinking alcohol is nearly as commonplace as root, root rooting for the home team. And while virtually no one has a problem with a fan who pushes back a beer or two during the game, flat-out drunk fans can ruin the experience for those sitting nearby. Worse yet, these people frequently get behind the wheel of a car after the game is over.

Recently, Darin Erickson and colleagues at the University of Minnesota decided to find out just how many fans go overboard at games, and their findings are worrisome, indeed. Using standard blood alcohol testing on 362 adult volunteers who were leaving 13 professional baseball and 3 professional football games, the scientists found that 40% had measurable levels of alcohol in their blood and a stunning 8% were legally drunk (as defined by a blood alcohol level of .08 or greater). The highest alcohol level recorded by the scientists was .22.

Erickson’s group also observed that Monday Night Football attendees were more likely than other fans to have been drinking. In addition, fans who were 35 years old or younger were 8 times more likely to leave the game drunk, and those who attended tailgating parties before the game were 14 times more likely to leave the game drunk.

The latter finding is consistent with a study from the University of Toledo, in which scientists gave breathalyzer tests to tailgaters at a college football game. The scientists found that an astounding 90% of the participants consumed alcohol during tailgate festivities, and among them, the average blood-alcohol concentration was 0.06, well on the way to being legally drunk.

Maybe these people should save the money they spent on tickets and go to a bar. Erickson’s study was published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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