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Alcohol and Sports: How Do They Mix?

Dave takes a look at the combination of sports and alcohol. How intertwined are the two in your experience?

Jonathan Daniel

In yesterday's post comparing the NFL and NBA we mentioned that the NFL is far more party-friendly than the NBA.  Whether you're on your couch or sitting in the stadium, plenty of breaks in the action (filled with copious replays) allow patrons to consume food and beverage without missing much of significance.  Games only come once a week so you can indulge as much as you want and still consider it a release rather than a way of life.  NFL games are a weekly celebration, ritual parties in an arena-shaped boxes.

This line of reasoning led me to wonder how important drinking is to the game day experience.  I'll share my stories, but I'm really more curious about yours.

In my daily life I am a social drinker.  I rarely consume alcohol on my own or just to relax.  All of my drinking happens among friends.  I love finding and sharing odd beers.  I like mixed drinks, especially ones I concoct.  I'm a bit of a girly-drink guy when it comes to cocktails but I don't like wine that much.  In all cases, the fun for me is in the sharing, the tasting, the discovery.  Alcohol isn't a means to an end, especially not an end that leaves me blabbering TMI or passed out.  It's a treat to explore or bond over like a nice appetizer or a good movie.

Oddly enough, alcohol and sports have never mixed for me.  I find concessions too overpriced to let me enjoy them, save that I always have a hot dog with everything on it if I go to a baseball game.  $9+ beer just makes me cringe.  I've paid that for a beer before, but it was because of the unusual brand, not the location it was sold in.  Arenas don't seem to sell beers I'm interested in, at least not interested enough to pay a fortune for.  Also I've never perceived alcohol adding to my enjoyment of a sporting event.  I love to watch the Blazers.  That in itself is an intoxicant.  I guess for me getting buzzed would diminish that experience, not enhance it.

I'm a little more liberal when it comes to drinking on the couch in front of the TV.  Whenever I have over-21 people over to watch a game, I'll offer them a beer.  Sometimes we drink, sometimes not.  Sadly, since I'm responsible for a 1500-word recap of each Blazers game I can't really have people over when Portland plays.  Careful note taking, casual conversation, and adult beverages don't mix.  (Plus there's the, "I'M WRITING NOW!  Y U NO LEAVE?" factor post-game.)  So in practice I don't end up drinking while the Blazers play even when I'm at home.

In short, though I'm not a teetotaler in real life, I end up one functionally during my consumption of sports.  Somehow I feel far apart from those for whom a beer or ten is a necessary accompaniment to a night of sports action.  I'm not judging.  I understand the general idea, it just doesn't mirror my pattern.  (Band practice, on the other hand, requires good beer.  I don't know why.)

I really don't get it when people get falling-down drunk at sporting events, which is a whole 'nother level from what we've just been discussing.  To me that seems like a waste of a pretty expensive admission ticket and one heck of an annoyance to everyone around.

All of that are my questions for you:

1.  What part does alcohol consumption play in your sports-viewing experience, either in the arena or at home?  How much?  How often?  Under what conditions do you like to drink while you watch, at home or on-site?

2.  How integral is drinking to your experience?  How does it improve things for you?  If arenas suddenly stopped selling alcohol or your spouse/doctor/deity suddenly prohibited you from couch drinking on game night, how drastically would it affect your evening?

3.  How do you perceive alcohol affecting the general arena experience?  When applied across a crowd of multiple thousands, do you see it adding to, detracting from, or having not much effect on that experience?

Clue us in and share your stories below.

--Dave (