NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Binge Drinking Scores With College Fans

December 12, 2002

College students who consider themselves sports fans are more likely to binge drink and have alcohol-related problems than students who are not sports fans, according to a Harvard study.

  • The study found that among students who drink alcohol, 53 percent of sports fans usually binged when drinking compared with 41 percent of men and 37 percent of women who considered themselves nonfans.
  • Fans were also more likely to have drunk alcohol on 10 or more occasions in the past 30 days and to consider drinking "to get drunk" an important reason for drinking.

Binge drinking for men is defined as having five or more alcoholic drinks in a relatively short period of time; for women, it's four drinks.

The report comes in the wake of recent disturbances after football games at Ohio State and other colleges that some college administrators have attributed to under-age drinking. The legal drinking age is 21.

"We know that student athletes binge drink more than nonathletes, but until now, no one has taken a systematic look at fans," said Toben F. Nelson, co-author of the study. "It turns out that fans are similar to athletes in their extreme drinking behavior, and that behavior has played out the last few weeks in the form of riots after a game, win or loss."

Source: Lena Williams, "Study Says Fans in College More Likely to Binge Drink," The New York Times, December 2002.


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