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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Does Selling Beer Reduce Public Drunkenness?

The latest Freakonomics podcast considered the question, "Can Selling Beer Cut Down on Public Drunkenness?" More precisely, it explored whether selling beer at college football games would cut down on public drunkenness. It features Oliver Luck, a former NFL quarterback and the current athletic director at West Virginia University (and father of top draft pick, Andrew Luck) who grew tired of the excessive drinking at WV Football games:
People [were] drinking far too much at pre-game parties and tailgate parties before games. Sneaking alcohol into games. Leaving at halftime or any point during the game to go back out to the tailgate to drink even more and come back into the game. … They would usually drink hard liquor — ‘get their buzz back on’ and come back into the game for the third quarter. And the police again would know exactly at what point in the third quarter these ‘throw-up calls’ would start to come over the radio
Although there is evidence that drinking and football games are correlated with public disorder (e.g., in 1996, the University of Colorado at Boulder, which did sell alcohol in the stadium, found a significant decrease in arrests and assaults after banning alcohol), Luck proposed (and got) for a middle solution: sell beer inside the stadium but don't allow students to leave and return to the stadium. What happened? According to Luck, it’s been win-win: about $500,000 in alcohol sales and less alcohol-related trouble:

As always, you can listen to the podcast at the Freakonomics website ("Can Selling Beer Cut Down on Public Drunkenness?") or download it from iTunes although I actually think the corresponding blog post more informative than the podcast itself, which was featured on NPR's "Marketplace."

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