Does Sport Culture Encourage Alcoholism?

football on a field to represent sporting culture

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Sport Culture and Alcoholism: Is there a connection?

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Content Overview

Sporting Events and Alcoholism

Drinking at sporting events has been somewhat of a staple in the entire sporting experience. Cracking a few cold ones with friends to watch your favorite sports team destroy the rival team sounds like a great way to spend your weekend. However, all of the shouts of joy for the game-winning touchdown or cries of sorrow for the dropped pass to win all doesn’t match the drinking problem that can be developed when over-drinking at sporting events.

We are here to provide the proper resources you need to either find a balance with your drinking habits or eliminate them if they seem to interfere with your personal life and experience with things you love, such as sports.

Content

Let’s Play Ball… and Drink!

Some may say that the best mix for alcohol is sports. The adrenaline felt during a match’s most exciting or dramatic times seems like it can only be fueled by anyone’s adult drink of choice. As the famous saying goes: “There’s nothing new under the sun.” Alcohol consumption during sporting events traces back to ancient times. The Journal of Nutrition Science Research published research stating that during Ancient Greek & Roman times, alcohol (specifical wine) was consumed much more because “the ancients had serious problems with clean water and so little of this was imbibed.”

As time passed, traditions stayed. Drinking at sporting events has been seen as more of a sporting culture necessity than a daily diet still being implemented in an activity. The five major professional sporting leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS) average more than 30,000 fans at their facilities for sporting events, with the NFL leading with an average attendance of 66,479 in 2019. Considering how sports influence drinking, one can conclude that a large percentage of the attendees consume alcohol while watching their sports team.

Alcohol has become so entrenched with sports that advertisements were introduced to gain more revenue for any party involved in the business dealings (alcohol advertisers, facility owners, athletes, etc.) In the U.S., beer advertisements arrived on the television screen in the 1940s, starting with Narragansett Beer, a regional beer company in Rhode Island, making its appearance on the first televised game of the Boston Red Sox. Within two years, multiple breweries were trying their hand at broadcast advertisement, and now, Medical Xpress says, “the alcohol industry accounts for roughly 20% of all sports sponsorships internationally.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health also reitirates studies done to monitor the increase of alcohol consumption amongst youth, especially underage drinkers. The school says the conclusion shows “that greater exposure to alcohol advertising contributes to increased drinking among underage youth.”

On the other hand, when studying the decrease of alcohol consumption resulting from a decrease in alcohol advertisement, research by William Hollingworth published on the NCBI National Library of Medicine concluded that “a complete ban on alcohol advertising would reduce deaths from harmful drinking by 7,609 and result in a 16.4% decrease in alcohol-related life-years lost.”

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Meet Me There

Social gatherings vary throughout the sports world, and tailgating is a popular one. Tailgates are pre-game festivities fans enjoy at a sporting facility, neighborhood, or even random places such as parking lots and open fields. While tailgating, you can count on a lot of alcohol making an appearance in every family and friends section. Seems fun? Maybe so. However, looking at it from a perspective of how it affects your personal life will allow you to be more conscious and cautious about drinking at sports events.

Typically for college students, binge drinking during tailgating eventually forms into Extreme Ritualistic Alcohol Consumption or ERAC. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, ERAC is “defined as consuming ten or more drinks on game day for a male, and eight or more drinks for a female…”. With rituals comes dependence. For many that engage in ERAC, their bodies become dependent on alcohol, thus feeding their addiction.

Another popular place where you can see how sports influences drinking is the sports bar. It’s already enough that this place is a regular bar, but adding big TVs, sports logos, and great food spices things up a bit. Who doesn’t love a great sports bar? Despite loving it, sports bars are catalysts to your drinking desires by using sports. Per research done by VicHealth, males have a “…median of six drinks per occasion at sports bars” when the average is four. Females, however, drink the same.

Review the Play

Recognizing your drinking habits can be the determining factor to whether you fall deeper into alcoholism or not. When individuals with drinking problems face criticisms of their drinking, they’re usually in denial about it. Denial is the biggest thing you want to avoid when trying to adjust your drinking habits. Denial will continuously create boundaries between you and a well-balanced lifestyle that could include alcohol if treated responsibly.

Using sporting events as an excuse to overindulge in drinking will cause more damage than you think. Besides the liver, overdrinking affect the heart, brain, pancreas, and potentially everything else if cancer is produced. Moderation must be implemented with drinking while watching sports, regardless of criticism. It doesn’t matter what is said about it. What matters is what is done to prevent any future issues. Be realistic with yourself while you consider how many drinks you have when you hook up with your friends for drinks and sports. If your body starts feeling different after two drinks, but the drink is down. You don’t have to get drunk to enjoy the game. You also have to remember: Your life doesn’t end after the game. So take it seriously.

Have a sober friend or family member observe your actions if you feel like you’re not strong enough to recognize and change your drinking habits during a sporting event. A loved one looking from the outside of your usual drinking experience should be as transparent as possible when explaining what they see about your drinking habits. Getting critiques from the same individual drinking with you might not sit right for you or anyone. Getting critiques from anyone might not sit well. However, getting critiques from coherent people who love and care about you should eventually get through and perhaps alter how sports influences drinking for you.

Call An Audible

Find an alternative to your drinking habits to lower your chance of drowning in alcoholism. Some of the alternatives can be a variety of methods used to decrease the chance of drunkenness. Some are, but are not limited to:

  • Drink Moderately – If a person does not drink to the point of intoxication, the chance of getting a hangover is practically nil. Although there are exceptions, only people who drink to excess will experience hangover symptoms.
  • Water – Because dehydration is one of the main causes of hangover symptoms, drinking water along with alcoholic beverages can prevent those symptoms. Drinking a glass of water before you start drinking alcohol, alternating with alcoholic beverages during the evening and before going to bed, will go a long way toward relieving hangover discomfort.
  • Eating Fried or Fatty Foods – Eating any food before a bout of drinking will slow the absorption of alcohol into the body. Eating fatty or greasy foods, in particular, will help coat the stomach lining and slow absorption. In some cultures, people take a spoonful of olive oil before drinking to slow down the absorption process.
  • Avoid Congeners – The chances of getting a hangover can be reduced by drinking alcoholic beverages that contain fewer congeners. Congeners are chemical byproducts made during fermentation that contribute to the beverage’s taste, smell, and appearance. Pure alcohol drinks, such as vodka or gin, contain few congeners, while drinks such as whiskey, brandy, and red wine contain more.
  • Over-the-counter remedies – Many over-the-counter products are marketed as hangover “cures.” The ones containing activated charcoal claim to work as a toxin filter in the body and may reduce hangover symptoms if taken before drinking. Because most of these remedies are supposed to be taken several times throughout the evening, each time with a full glass of water, it may be the water that has the actual preventive qualities.

Often, groups or individual therapies are implemented to change an individual’s way of thinking. These therapies focus on negative behaviors and ways of thinking and readjust them into positive patterns.

Therapy also teaches individuals how to handle struggles of life without resorting to drug use. They also allow an individual to learn their triggers and how to avoid them best. A lot of addiction treatment options take several weeks, but others can last longer depending on the severity of the individual.

Furthermore, relapsing is often a part of recovery. It is a common misconception that relapsing is a sign of not recovering the right way. Many individuals who enter treatment will relapse at least once.

Everyone is different, so remember that your experience will differ. Before dismissing therapy and addiction recovery altogether, understanding the options available to you is vital in deciding.

Ways to Recover from Alcoholism

The NIDA lists the following therapies as effective for addiction recovery.

  • Cognitive-behavioral Therapy – Patients will be assisted in recognizing, avoiding, and coping with situations that could lead to substance use.
  • Contingency Management – Positive reinforcement is implanted for individuals who remain drug-free, attend counseling or take their medication properly.
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy – Strategies that help individuals ready to change their behaviors and enter treatment.
  • Family Therapy – Individuals work with their families to address substance abuse patterns to improve family relations.
  • Twelve-step Facilitation – A form of individual therapy delivered in a 12-week session format to prepare individuals for entering 12-step programs. Twelve-step programs are designed to assist with social skills during and post-treatment.

Understanding how the treatment will help you is the first step, no matter what you’re going through. Treatment is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. When battling an addiction to alcohol, treatment is the best way to get back to a happy and productive lifestyle.

Game On!

Be creative with your attempts to change the way sports influence drinking. Challenge yourself to drink half of what you normally drink when attending sporting events. It will be tempting to maneuver between the people who might not be on the same mission you’re on but sometimes sacrifice brings the greatest results.

Also, try conversing with people who enjoy drinking at sporting events and those with whom you have a comfortable speaking relationship. Other than asking them what drinks they usually consume or what they would recommend to drink, ask them how they feel the morning after or just in general when drinking on behalf of sporting events.

If you don’t know a person like that, reach out to a medical professional and ask for creative ways to eliminate or moderate drinking while at sporting events.
If you’re finding this challenge to be difficult, don’t beat yourself up about it.

Support can always be found at a rehab facility near you. Their job is to ensure you receive the proper detoxification, education, and rehabilitation treatment from the right people, whether inpatient or outpatient.

The Helpline is free. Dial (888) 906-0952 and press 1.

Sources for Further Study on Alcoholism and Sporting Events

[1] https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/a-comparison-of-ancient-greek-and-roman-sports-diets-with-modern-day-practices-2473-6449-1000104.php?aid=69865#19

[2] https://www.statista.com/statistics/207458/per-game-attendance-of-major-us-sports-leagues/

[3] https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-04-alcohol-ads-sport-fuel-culture.html

[4] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/dar.12929

[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20304753/

[6] https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/-/media/ResourceCentre/PublicationsandResources/alcohol-misuse/VicHealth_Drinking_culture_Sports_Bars.pdf?la=en&hash=6109BC6ACDBF8C98BA007EFEF827BD39ABA24592

[7] https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-prevent-getting-a-hangover-67351

[8] http://www.camy.org/resources/fact-sheets/alcohol-advertising-and-youth/

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https://www.abtrs.com/news/high-functioning-alcoholic

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Medically Reviewed By:

Dr. Patricia Sullivan MD MPH on 12/09/2021

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