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Tailgating Fans? They May Well Be Drunk

Tailgating Fans? They May Well Be DrunkA new study using a breath analyzer finds that approximately 40 percent of professional baseball and football fans drink while attending a game and that 8 percent are legally drunk.

As for those who drink at tailgating parties, they have 14 times greater odds of being legally drunk compared to fans who had not tailgated, according to lead researcher Darin Erickson, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota.

The study used a breath analyzer to determine the values.

“Getting fans to submit to a breath test and participate in a brief survey following a football or baseball game is not an easy task,” Erickson said. “We conducted BAC (blood alcohol content) tests of 362 adult attendees following 13 baseball games and three football games.

“This is a preliminary study, but the first one to actually attempt to measure BAC levels after professional sporting events in the U.S.,” Erickson said.

A Canadian study conducted in 1992 found similar results.

“Our sample size was small, partly because of the difficulty of getting fans to submit to a BAC test after a game. But if we assume that it represents individuals attending professional events, it means that on average about 5,000 attendees leaving one National Football League (NFL) event would be above the legal BAC limit for driving.

“That’s a lot of drunken individuals who could be involved in traffic crashes, assaults, vandalism, crime and other injuries,” Erickson said.

Part of the problem can be addressed through better training of alcohol servers; several stadiums are trying to train their servers.

But according to another study cited by Erickson, even as recently as 2008 fans who appeared to be obviously intoxicated could buy alcohol 74 percent of the time. Increased police patrols around sports stadiums would also help, he said.

Other results from Erickson’s study found that:

    • Fans under 35 years of age have nine times greater odds of having BAC levels above the limit of 0.08.
    • Nearly one in four attendees who tailgated reported consuming five or more alcoholic beverages while tailgating.
    • 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.

Source: Burness Communications

Tailgating Fans? They May Well Be Drunk

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Tailgating Fans? They May Well Be Drunk. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 20 Jan 2011)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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