Tuesday November 20th 2018

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Does Football Promote and Encourage Binge Drinking?

Football and Binge Drinking

Whether in the stands or the media, the consumption of alcohol is ever-present and widely celebrated in the world of sport. And with the 2018 World Cup providing the most recent example, it raises the question, does football promote binge drinking?

If this year’s World Cup has taught us anything, it’s that football and drinking still very much go hand-in-hand. Amid all the excitement and heartache throughout the tournament, alcohol maintained a very active presence in the media. Granted, much of it was due to the huge amounts of beer being thrown in the air to celebrate goals being
scored, but it’s clear that binge drinking was being given the green light for such a special occasion.

In this post, we’ll discuss the role of alcohol in football fandom and whether or not it encourages people to have “one too many”.

Alcohol Sponsorship in Football

For many years now, a wide range of beer and spirit brands have sponsored football teams and tournaments. Prime examples include Liverpool featuring the Carlsberg logo on their shirts, and the English League Cup spending several years under the mantle of “The Carling Cup”.

And while alcohol sponsorship on team shirts is substantially less common these days — with gambling and apps seemingly taking its place — there’s still a great deal of it being featured on pitch-side banners, as well as in pre and post-match television ads.

Although it would definitely be a reach to suggest that sponsorship in football alone is responsible for widespread binge-drinking, it’s safe to say that it’s established a link between the two. For many, this has been enough to promote the idea that:

Football is more enjoyable while under the influence.

Are We Ignoring the Obvious?

Considering that we live in an era where the awareness and treatment of alcohol addiction is held in such high regard, it’s surprising that the dangers of excessive drinking are somewhat ignored when it comes to football. And while it’s fair to say companies aren’t forcing their customers to drink in excess, the encouragement from advertising is a massive influence.

It’s especially worrying when you consider how many young fans associate football with alcohol consumption, and develop a binge drinking habit early on, due to the established routine of getting drunk.

The Impact of Binge Drinking

The definition of binge drinking is consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. Your body can only process one unit of alcohol per hour, which is worrying, because the average pint of lager contains 2-3 units.

A football match lasts for ninety minutes (plus 15 minutes for halftime), and, during this time, it’s safe to say the average fan will polish off several drinks.

Binge drinking can severely impact your mood and mental health, and it’s often the catalyst that fuels violent or hostile situations during football matches. When alcohol is flooded into your system over such a short period of time, it can also harm your liver and kidneys, especially if you binge drink on a regular basis.

Signs of a Problem

The definition of binge drinking is to consume lots of alcohol (6 units or more) in a short space of time, or drinking with the intention of getting drunk. For some, this will occur once or twice a month and have no long-lasting problems, but for others, binge drinking can become a regular or even daily habit. Here are some of the signs that your binge drinking is developing into a more serious problem:

1. You Can’t Consume Only a Small Amount of Drinks.

One of the most common signs of problem drinking is an inability just to have one or two drinks. Drinking a lot of alcohol because you are unable to stop once you’ve started is not only a sign of a binge drinking problem, but it’s also a red flag for alcohol dependence.

2. Drinking with the Intention of Getting Drunk.

There’s a big difference between having a few drinks and ending up drunk and going out with the sole intention of getting drunk. Regularly drinking to the point of intoxication can be harmful for several reasons, so it’s not something that you should aim to achieve and definitely shouldn’t be your reason for drinking alcohol.

3. Drinking Quick.

While many people like to sit down and enjoy a cold beer, a glass of wine with some food, or a tasty cocktail at a bar, there are others who finish or ‘down’ their drinks as quickly as possible. This is a common tactic of a binge drinker as it allows them to get drunk as quickly as possible and alcohol is simply treated as a means to an end, rather than an ingredient of an enjoyable beverage.

4. Drastic Personality Change.

The overindulgence of alcohol can often bring out a different side of people, causing them to act in ways that can potentially put themselves or others in danger. For example, when someone is sober, the concept of drinking and driving would seem ludicrous. However, they might be able to justify getting behind the wheel after a period of heavy drinking.

5. Aggression and Violence.

Several studies have revealed a link between binge drinking and aggressive or violent behaviour. Alcohol can massively influence how you respond to certain situations. So when you’re drinking, things can get out of control due to aggressive behavior. Combine that with other drunk people and there’s a recipe for aggravation and altercations.

What You Can Do About It

When it comes to excessive binge drinking the first and most important step is recognising that there’s a problem. Then, depending on the severity of the issue, a decision needs to be made about how you can go about reducing your intake and attitude towards alcohol. Everyone is different and will respond positively to different solutions. If you or someone you know is having problems with binge drinking then one of the following is advisable:

Remove Yourself from Toxic Environments.

Regular binge drinking isn’t necessarily a sign of alcoholism or alcohol dependency, in many cases, it’s simply down to the fact that you’re spending too much time in environments that promote the consumption of alcohol. The best way to remedy the situation could simply be a case of not going out for a while or avoiding hangouts such as bars and clubs, but it may require more drastic action such as not socialising with friends who insist on binge drinking regularly.

Try to Detox.

Binge drinking often occurs when you get into the routine of going out every weekend. Detoxing is not only a great way to give your body a much-needed rest from boozing, but it also allows you to break the habit and reduce the likelihood of you slipping back into a binge drinking routine.

Seek the Help of Professionals

Drinking alcohol to excess on a regular basis can have a severe impact on your physical and mental health, and if you’re struggling to reduce or give up drinking then you should seek professional help. Your doctor will be able to provide advice and guidance regarding any health issues you may be experiencing due to alcohol. However, if you’re looking for detox treatments and sobriety guidance then your best bet is a specialist rehab or addiction clinic.

In Conclusion

Whether or not football promotes binge drinking will always be a matter of opinion, but the environment and atmosphere it creates for fans is an undeniable influence. An influence, of any nature, can be enough to turn “a few drinks” into a bout of binge drinking. For the average fan, this may only be once every so often, but, for those who
watch every game at the pub, it could develop into a serious condition.

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About Obi Unaka, Bsc (Hons) MCMI

Obi Unaka is the Treatment Director of Charterhouse Clinic Flore, a fully residential, luxurious drug and alcohol rehabilitation, health and wellbeing facility set in the idyllic countryside of Northamptonshire, UK. Obi is a therapist, clinical supervisor, consultant and registered manager with many years experience of working with individuals presenting with problematic substance use and process or behavioral addictions.