U. MINNESOTA (US) — Breathalyzer exams of fans after professional baseball and football games show that about 8 percent leave too drunk to drive legally.
Although the sample size was small—a total of 362 adults after 13 games—if the results accurately represent typical behavior at a professional games, lead researcher Darin Erickson of the University of Minnesota says, “on average almost 5,000 attendees leaving one National Football League (NFL) event would be above the legal blood alcohol content (BAC).”
Sixty percent of fans tested had a blood alcohol content level (BAC) of zero and 40 percent had a BAC under the legal driving limit of .08, and of that group, 8 percent blew above that legal limit. Results are reported in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
The study showed that fans under 35 years of age have nine times greater odds of having BAC levels above the limit of .08.
Tailgating parties increased the chances of drinking too much, with tailgaters having 14 times greater odds of being legally drunk, compared to fans who had not tailgated. Those who were in the highest BAC category reported consuming, on average, 6.6 drinks while tailgating compared with 3.7 drinks and 2.8 drinks for those in the mid-range BAC category and the zero BAC category, respectively.
Night game attendees had higher odds of having a mid-range BAC (not above the legal limit), but they were not significantly more likely to have a BAC above the legal limit.
Erickson says that better training of alcohol servers and increased police patrols around sports stadiums could help deter some of the drinking.
The study was funded by the Substance Abuse Policy Research Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
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