The University of Minnesota has been doing research on drunkenness at football and baseball games since 2005, and the results aren’t very surprising. It seems that a number of fans go to sporting events with the intention of drinking, and 1 in 12 people leave games legally drunk.
Alcohol laws and guidelines at stadiums are poorly enforced: Researchers said 74 percent of people pretending to be drunk were served and they were three times more likely to buy it from a vendor working the stands than a concession booth.
Thousands of fans leaving games and getting into their cars are drunk: Researchers took breathalyzer tests of 362 fans at 13 baseball and three NFL games and found 8 percent of them – 1 in 12 – were legally drunk, while 40 percent of them had at least something to drink. That 8 percent, when multiplied by the thousands of people attending games nationwide, leads to a staggering number.
So now we have a study and numbers to tell us what we already know. Basically, this is advanced metric to back up the eye-test that people like to drink and watch sports. This is not news.
“I hear from people who’d been going to games their entire life, they say, ‘I don’t go to games anymore,’” said Darin Erickson, who worked on the University of Minnesota studies. “They tell stories about people swearing blatantly, throwing things and fights. It’s not always actual assaults, but some of the people I talk to just aren’t comfortable with the environment. And it seems that they’re often saying it’s attributable to general drunkenness.”
AP reporters requested arrest statistics from 8 teams, but were turned down in each case. “All, however, said they were working aggressively to curb alcohol-related problems in the stands.” Clubs have cards with rules for dealing with drunk fans and numbers fans can text when there are problems.
The study found that, in general, “alcohol enforcement practices (at stadiums and arenas) are somewhat limited and alcohol-related complaints are fairly common.” Yet despite the message that drinking leads to problems, there’s no push to stop serving fans. Turning off the tap could hurt key sponsors.
Yeah, that’s not going to happen. The important thing is that the teams and fans continue to work with programs that keep those people from driving and are proactive in the stadiums to get rid of drunk nuisances. Drinking and sports will remain close friends forever; it’s a matter of people being responsible and stadium staff being attentive.
[Cincinnati.com, Images via Getty]