Commentary: Tailgating Leads Sports Fans To Drunkenness

binge drinking Earlier this week we included a link in the Mid-Week Eye Candy Wrapper #102: Carrie Prejean Edition that appeared in NPR regarding a study done on sports fan intoxication. In a nutshell, the study concluded that eight percent of adult fans were legally drunk after attending pro baseball and football games. The study went on to disclose that tailgating before the games was the biggest factor linked to drunkenness. Tailgating Leads Sports Fans To Drunkenness

Although you can read the entire article for yourself, here are the most important excerpts I would like to discuss:

In the study conducted at two unnamed stadiums, 362 adults leaving major league baseball and professional football games agreed to answer a few questions and have their breath tested by researchers from the University of Minnesota. Forty percent tested positive for alcohol consumption. About 1 in 12 fans was legally drunk.

Lead researcher Darin Erickson told Shots the strongest predictor of who was drunk was whether the person had tailgated. Those who had were 14 times more likely to be found over the legal limit for driving than those who hadn’t.

Using those figures and some simple math and round figures, at a stadium seating 60,000 people, with 40,000 of them drinking-age adults, this study claims that on average 3,000 to 4,000 people leaving the stadium are intoxicated.

Although I have been an advocate for responsible tailgating since day No. 1 of starting this tailgating blog, I do have to call some BS on this study. Because of ethics reasons, the pollsters weren’t allowed to ask those they breath tested if they were driving home upon leaving the stadium. Don’t you think that is something that should have been asked to put the study results in context?

If we do not know how many of those polled found to be intoxicated were planning on driving themselves home, then this study is useless. Does it matter if those fans leaving the premises are legally drunk as long as they have a designated driver or are taking public transportation home? Also, what about stadiums that allow for post-game tailgating? What if those intoxicated fans plan to spend the next 90 minutes sobering up on bottled water while the parking lot clears out?

…If we do not know how many of those polled found to be intoxicated were planning on driving themselves home, then this study is useless

Another question I might ask if I was conducting this poll would be, “did you continue to purchase alcohol while inside the stadium?”. I have been tailgating a long time and for many years and one would really need to apply themselves to get that drunk in the parking lot to still be drunk after sitting through an entire football game without buying more booze. To blame tailgating as the lone contributing factor to sports fan intoxication is biased and one-sided at best.

The same group who funded and conducted this study may want to perform another one for comparison sake. How about polling bar patrons as they are leaving the pub at the end of the night. Do a breath test on those people and also ask them if they pre-partied at home with some drinks before going to the bar. How about polling college students as they leave a college house party and see what results you get from the similar questions asked of sports fans. I’m confident the percentages of drunkenness with bar patrons and frat party guests will blow sports fans out of the water. Then again, if they are planning on taking a cab or walking home, who really gives a rat’s ass how drunk they are?

Am I saying that 100% of all fans leaving a sporting even are sober as a judge upon exit? Of course not. What I am saying is that by publishing the results of this study in order to shock and disgust the general public, it needs to be presented in more context. Can tailgating be blamed for all of it? No way. The only way tailgating could be held 100% responsible for the intoxication level of fans is if they conducted this poll outside a stadium that did not serve one drop of alcohol during the game. Yeah, right. Like that’ll ever happen.

If this study did ask how many fans were planning on driving themselves home, that would have helped this study’s credibility tremendously. If 90% of those polled that were considered to be drunk answered they arrived via train or taxi or had a designated driver, the results of this study would not have much teeth to it. But because we need to scare the public into thinking that everyone leaving a pro sports stadium is three sheets to the wind and will be slamming into a school bus full of special needs children after exiting the parking lot, we get this half-ass attempt at a study.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” This study is just another example of that. Until we get more information about how damaging this knowledge really is in the context it deserves, please chalk it up to another scare tactic in an effort to reduce your tailgating times on site.