Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pro Football's Big Secret: A Health Risk

This is a great time of year if you are a football fan. We have two great games this weekend and were heading to the Super Bowl. For those lucky enough to live in cities where there are games many might be heading out to tailgate before the game. When you ask people who tailgate about drinking alcohol and if they're concerned about driving home with a high blood-alcohol level they often say they eat enough food and it is not a big issue. But according to a new report in the journal, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 40% of people tested had detectable alcohol levels after the game eight Percent were legally drunk. What is particularly concerning is that fans under 35 were nine times more likely to be drunk than older ones. Those who tailgate before the games were 14 times more likely to be drunk compared to people who did not wine and dine in the parking lot. So if you think about the average crowd in a typical sports stadium it can be estimated that as many as 5000 people leaving a game could have a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit. The study was conducted at the University of Minnesota and is particularly concerning because the authors of the study believe this is a low estimate. Many people refused to be tested because they thought they might be caught. One other point. Most teams have big business selling alcohol during the game to fans in the stands or in luxury boxes. This is a major public health issue that should not be ignored. Think of all the innocent people driving cars who happened to be in the area after a game. The high percentage of alcohol intoxicated fans leaving games represent a real risk.

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