Illegal alcohol sales may be common at sports events

By Tm Nordlie • Published: November 21st, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The old song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” mentions buying peanuts and Cracker Jack, but not beer.

Nonetheless, alcoholic beverages are a tradition at many sports facilities.

And a recent study suggests sellers aren’t always conscientious about who their customers are.

It was published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Researchers sent actors to buy alcoholic drinks at sporting events in sixteen stadiums.

Some actors pretended to be intoxicated. Others looked underage, but were actually twenty-one or older. If asked for I-D, they said they didn’t have any.

The actors approached concession stands and roving vendors.

Altogether, they made three-hundred purchase attempts.

The pseudo-drunks were served three-quarters of the time.

But the pseudo-underagers were successful only about one-fifth of the time.

For both groups, sales were more likely if the seller was male, or a roving vendor.

Curiously, the presence of security personnel had opposite effects… more sales to the actors who looked drunk, fewer to those who looked young.

The researchers believed that periodic “sting” operations by law-enforcement agencies may explain the low rate of sales to the pseudo-underage buyers.

Considering how often the actors succeeded, researchers suggested that vendors should be better trained to check I-Ds and recognize signs of impairment. That sounds like a no-brainer. Vendors can be arrested and facilities may be sued if things go wrong.

So perhaps stadium managers need to take a look at this study. It just might prove sobering.