Sports Fans and Alcohol Consumption
Whether watching a sports game at home or attending a live event, drinking is standard for many sports fans. Sports are notorious for tailgating parties, viewing parties, and drinking at the games themselves. A survey1 found that an average of 3.7 alcoholic drinks are consumed while watching a sporting event. Some sports have higher association with alcohol beverages than others, with MMA and UFC fans drinking the most compared to other sports.
People tend to drink more at a live sporting event than sitting in the living room watching it, which may be due to the intensity of the environment and what that in-person experience offers. NCAA fans on average consumed the least number of drinks while at home or at an event. Marketing during sports games also targets alcohol consumption.
Gameday Drinking During Football Season
How much NFL fans drink can be quite staggering. Many football fans start drinking way before kickoff during tailgate parties or viewing parties. Many people use football game days as an excuse to binge drink and start the party early, especially for daytime games. A survey2 found that nearly 1/3 of people surveyed reported pregaming two hours before the game began on average and on average involved three or more drinks. Playing drinking games that enable binge drinking such as beer pong and flip cup is also quite common during tailgating or pregame parties. These fans are also likely to continue drinking through the game, including at the stadium. Many also view celebrating their team’s success or drowning their sorrows as an opportunity to continue drinking after the game. Heavy drinking can result in ugly consequences, especially when emotions are high, such as verbal or physical altercations, driving under the influence, run-ins with the law, blacking out and vomiting, and of course the terrible next day hangover.
Which NFL Fans Drink the Most?
A recent report3 from SportsHandle examined and ranked the country’s biggest NFL fan drinkers in 2021. They surveyed 2,013 NFL fans of legal drinking age and found that the top 10 teams who drank the most and average drinks per game were:
- Cincinnati Bengals (5.2 average drinks)
- Baltimore Ravens (4.7 average drinks)
- Buffalo Bills (4.5 average drinks)
- Chicago Bears (4.5 average drinks)
- Carolina Panthers (4.4 average drinks)
- Denver Broncos (4.4 average drinks)
- Los Angeles Chargers (4.4 average drinks)
- Cleveland Browns (4.3 average drinks)
- Los Angeles Rams (4.3 average drinks)
- Detroit Lions (4.1 average drinks)
How to Stay Sober During Football Season
With fall underway, so is football season and subsequently day drinking as well. For those in recovery, especially in their first year of recovery, this can be a challenging time of the year of sobriety because of more temptation. Also, drinking and watching sports goes hand in hand for many people and may bring up triggers. Just as you learned coping skills in drug and alcohol rehab, you can learn tools and skills for keeping sober during football and sporting events. This is one of the reasons why aftercare programs are so valuable for recovery in the first year. As you start to experience life again in sobriety, triggers you did not realize or thinking about start to come up and ongoing recovery work can help you face these triggers head on.
Some ways you can stay away from drinking during football season include:
- Start By Staying Home. Even though you want to jump back into life, sometimes taking it slow and avoiding the triggers themselves may be what you need. Initially, you should be extra cautious and gain an understanding of situations so you can gain a handle of it. Taking things step by step and as you get a handle on each one, go on to more challenging situations. For example, next go to a friend’s house to watch it and finally to a restaurant or bar when you are ready.
- Host a Sober Viewing. You should communicate with your loved one about your sobriety and what you are still struggling with. They are there to support you. Tell them you need some time to be able to be around alcohol again so you need to take things in small steps. Ask them to help you out by watching a few games sober with you as well.
- Accept the Change. Do let yourself get caught up with what football games “used to” be like for you when you were drinking. You have let go of the old you and now you need to let go of how you used to experience things, such as sporting events.
- Go to a Meeting Before the Big Game. 12 Step meetings have helped many people maintain their sobriety for decades and are a valuable relapse prevention tool. Going to a meeting the day of the game can help you feel stronger about your sobriety and away from temptation when alcohol is around.
- Make a Plan for Game Day. You can play out different scenarios and even write down everything you need to support your sobriety for the day. For example, how you will respond when someone asks if you would like a drink or why you are not drinking, purchasing non-alcoholic drinks to take, and having a friend to call if you need support.
- Bring a Sober Friend. If you are going to the game or watching it where people will be drinking, having a friend who is also sober can help you feel more comfortable and help you not feel like you’re the only one not drinking and not having fun.
- Keep a Non-Alcoholic Drink in Your Hand. Actively keep drinking non-alcoholic drinks to reduce cravings and behaviors related to alcohol. It also keeps people who do not know about your sobriety from asking you if they can get you a beer or another drink. Make sure to bring your own non-alcoholic drink and not rely on the host to have some. You can even get creative and make some fun mocktails.
- Focus on the Food. Shift your mindset about making football all about drinking and instead focus on the tasty food that will be served.
- Have a Quick Exit Strategy. Make sure you always have a way to quickly get out of a football viewing party or the stadium if cravings creep up, such as bringing your own car or having a trusted friend be on call to pick you up. If this happens, you should also try to quickly find a meeting to go to as well.
Start Your Recovery at TruPath
If you are struggling with controlling your alcohol intake and feel like you have a problem with drinking, TruPath Recovery can help you get your life back on track. We are a network of treatment centers throughout the US with detox centers and addiction treatment centers that provide a full continuum of care. All our treatment centers provide personalized treatment plans composed of evidence-based addiction treatments found throughout the best rehab centers in the US along with holistic interventions.
If you or a loved one needs help, we encourage you to reach out to us. Our caring and knowledgeable staff can provide you with resources and help you find the right treatment program for your individual needs. Please do not hesitate to contact us today.