Football fans in Virginia may drive to Charlottesville to attend Cavaliers games or may cheer for - or against - the National Football League's Baltimore Ravens or Washington Redskins on any given Sunday. But whether at the game, a local bar or visiting a friend's house, football fans across the state may be more likely to drink on game days compared to other days of the year. This leads to an increased risk of car accidents.
The NFL is making an effort to stop motor vehicle accidents using a number of different techniques. While it is a good thing the football league is trying to combat the dangers of impaired driving, their efforts may have limited success- especially in places like Virginia where most fans watch professional games at friend's homes or sports bars.
Can the NFL Help to Stop Impaired Driving?
The National Football League is trying a number of different techniques to try to address the serious problems associated with excessive consumption of alcohol during football games. USA Today reports the NFL has tried to cut down on tailgating hours in order to reduce the potential problems associated with drinking before games. As ABC indicates, tailgaters are 14 times as likely as other football fans to leave a game with a BAC that is over-the-limit.
The NFL has also instituted a new policy applicable at several stadiums throughout the country already and recommended to all stadiums as part of the NFL's best practices for fan safety. The new policy would require fans who are involved in problems and ejected from stadiums to attend a Fan Conduct Course, at their cost. Fans would need to complete the course before being allowed to attend a game again. A part of the focus of the course is on safe consumption of alcoholic beverages.
These policies are a good step in the right direction towards recognizing the link between football and fans drinking too much. However, the NFL also needs to make sure its players stop drinking and driving. Players are often heroes for young people, and they set a bad example when arrested for impaired driving, which may make teens and young adults think it is OK to be drunk behind the wheel.
USA Today indicates drunk driving is a major issue among professional football players. Since 1998, three football players have been involved in accidents where they allegedly killed someone after drinking too much alcohol.
NFL players are arrested for impaired driving an average of 13 to 14 times annually. In 2009, there were 19 NFL players arrested and in 2010, there were 20 NFL players arrested on suspicion of impaired driving. In total, 177 players have been arrested since January of 2007 for consuming alcoholic beverages and then getting behind the wheel.
The NFL needs to impose strict disciplinary measures on its players to try to combat drinking and driving among the professionals. If players stop drinking so much and set an example, the NFL's other efforts to stop alcohol consumption among fans may be more likely to be effective.