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The brain game: A look at why we drink at sporting events

Whether you're attending a playoff game or simply attending a sporting event for a local team, chances are you'll see people enjoying a beer or other alcoholic beverage. In fact, you may be one of those people. Drinking at sporting events in as commonplace as fans, but this fact raises two questions:

Why do alcohol and sports seem to go hand in hand and what problems can arise when fans take their revelry a little too far?

The psychology behind drinking

Even though alcohol is classified as a depressant, it can also produce stimulant effects, researchers at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco explain in a 2012 study. As the study points out, "drinking alcohol leads to the release of endorphins in areas of the brain that produce feelings of pleasure and reward."

Cheering at sporting events has a similar effect. And because many people enjoy drinking in a social setting, the brain often makes the connection between sports, drinking alcohol and feeling good. The more times this connection is made, the more likely someone is to associate drinking with attending a sporting event and partake in this behavior.

One drink too many

While there is nothing innately wrong with enjoying a beer or alcoholic beverage at a game, it goes without saying that there is an obvious need to plan for a sober ride home. According to research from the University of Minnesota, approximately "one in 12 [fans] leave the stadium legally drunk," meaning they are above the legal limit of .08 BAC.

Operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) can lead to serious consequences in Indiana. Even a first-time offense, which is classified as a Class C misdemeanor under Indiana Code section 9-30-5, can result in jail time and a fine of up to $500, among other possible consequences, if convicted. Subsequent OWIs can lead to even steeper punishments, which only highlights the importance of understanding the law and seeking help from an attorney if you are facing criminal charges related to an OWI.

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