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Researchers Attempt To Count Drunk Sports Fans

Of 362 fans willing to be tested leaving pro football and baseball games, 8 percent were over the legal alcohol limit. Steve Mirsky reports

It’s a "now-they-know-how-many-holes-it-takes-to-fill-the-Albert-Hall" situation. Because researchers have measured the actual blood alcohol level of fans leaving professional football and baseball games. And they found that eight percent of all the spectators willing to take the breathalyzer exam were over the legal limit for driving. The work appears in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. [Darin Erickson et al., "Can We Assess Blood Alcohol Levels of Attendees Leaving Professional Sporting Events?"]

The investigators managed to get breath samples from 362 fans exiting 13 different baseball games and three football games. Forty percent registered some level of alcohol on the meters. Fans under the age of 35 were nine times more likely to be over the limit than older fans. And tailgaters were 14 times more likely than other fans to be over the limit.

Lead researcher Darin Erickson of the University of Minnesota points out that, if the 8 percent finding holds for the whole crowd, at the conclusion of an NFL game some 5,000 people over the limit could spill out into the streets and potentially behind the wheel. Remember, these results apply to those willing to be tested. So the true percentage of uncooperative inebriates may be higher.

—Steve Mirsky

[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

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