Bottoms up at the ballgame (5×8 – 1/19/11)

Sports and the drunken fan, guns in school, the news from Tucson, the end of days in Wisconsin, and snowmobile trails and the interloper.


Does it say something that the University of Minnesota estimation that 8 percent of people leaving football and baseball events being too drunk to drive seems low? Eight percent at, say, Target Field is 3,000 people. People who tailgate — we’re talking football, of course — are 14 times more likely to be drunk.

Researchers gave breathalyzer tests to 362 adults from 13 baseball and three football games. That’s not a huge sample, but researchers said a lot of people who were asked refused to participate.

According to, the research also showed that:

* Fans under 35 years of age have nine times greater odds of having BAC levels above the limit of 0.08. And those who drink at tailgating parties have 14 times greater odds of being legally drunk, compared to fans that had not tailgated.

* Nearly one in four attendees who tailgated reported consuming five or more alcoholic beverages while tailgating.

* Those who were in the highest BAC category reported consuming, on average, 6.6 drinks while tailgating compared with 3.7 drinks and 2.8 drinks for those in the mid-range BAC category and the zero BAC category, respectively.

* Night game attendees had higher odds of having a mid-range BAC (not above the legal limit), but they were not significantly more likely to have a BAC above the legal limit.

“How many of them were driving?” The Current’s Mary Lucia asked me yesterday.

We don’t know. According to one publication, it would have been unethical to ask.

Which leaves us where? What do we do with this information?

The site, Boing Boing, asks some good questions:

How does the percentage of legally inebriated people who choose to drive after a sports game compare to, say, the percentage of legally inebriated people who choose to drive home from a play, and from the bars on Saturday night? And how do those figures compare to the BACs of a random sampling of Americans driving on a busy highway? Is there just a flat percentage of us who don’t care much about driving drunk? Or does the size of that group vary by activity?

If 92 percent of the people leaving stadiums are sober, that’s 92 percent of the people who could be designated drivers. That’s got to be a higher number than closing time at the neighborhood pubs.


Is it time to allow teachers to carry guns in school? They’re banned in Minnesota. In Nebraska, a lawmakers has proposed a bill to allow teachers to carry them. Two weeks ago, a 17 year old killed a vice principal, wounded a principal, and then killed himself.


The husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, has given an extensive interview to a local TV station in Tucson. Find the full interview here. Despite all of the news of neck rubs, open eyes, and response to commands, he says she doesn’t know what happened to her.

While many in the media refer to the representative’s recovery so far as “miraculous,” it minimizes the long slog that’s ahead. Gil Colman survived the shooting four years ago at Virginia Tech, when a student gunman killed 32 people. The Story’s Dick Gordon talked with him about how a traumatic event can affect survivors days and years later.


Two-hundred cows drop over… dead in Wisconsin. Birds falling from the sky… dead. Patriots lose to the Jets. It’s a sign of the end of days, no doubt. Or not. assesses the theology of dead cows:

The death of cows, birds and fish in particular seems to follow the prophecy set out by the Bible in the Book of Hosea, and are said to result when man turns his back on God. “By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood,” the prophecy goes. “Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.”


A poster on the Perfect Duluth Day site makes a valid point. What would happen if he rode his (or her, I’m not sure which) snowmobile on a cross country ski trail?

I was out enjoying the local snowmobile trails yesterday and came across a man walking his two dogs; a man with his child and dog walking; a man, child and two dogs XC skiing (not the dogs); a woman walking; and a man riding his mountain bike.

These are all great outdoor recreational activities to enjoy and I am not mad that they are participating, I am mad that they were all on the state snowmobile trail. If I were to ride down a ski trail, or the Lakewalk, or a regular sidewalk for that matter, people would be calling the police and hopping up and down in anger. So why is it OK to break the rules the other way?

But ski jumps are for shopping carts, at least in Bloomington. Park Nicollet used the ski jump there to reinforce resolutions against junk food.

Bonus: For 60 years, until last year, an unknown person left three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac at Edgar Allan Poe’s grave on the anniversary of his birth. Today is Poe’s birthday. He — or maybe, she — didn’t show again this morning and, it’s fair to say, will show nevermore.

“I think we can safely say it’s not car trouble, and he’s not sick,” said Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe House and Museum. “This doesn’t look good.”

Spell check!: Whoops!


On the journalism front, Tom Thom Fladung, the managing editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, is heading for the Cleveland Plain Dealer (required daily reading at Casa News Cut). In a video posted on the Plain Dealer site, he gives a pretty good accounting of the role of newspapers:


One of Minnesota’s largest health plans is launching an online rating system for doctors over the objections of the state medical association. Would a poor rating prompt you to consider changing doctors?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: For more than fifteen years, Wendell Potter was a prominent spokesman for the health insurance industry and a leading voice in the industry’s battle against healthcare reform. In his new book, he explains why he decided to become an advocate for reform.

Second hour: Record corporate profits. The illusion of higher productivity. Marginal job growth in the private sector. Boomers languishing in unemployment longer than they ever imaged. Millions running out of the essential safety net of jobless benefits. Millions more not even counted among the 9.4 percent unemployed. Who will step up to create new jobs?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Itasca CEOs Ken Powell (General Mills) and Doug Baker (Ecolab) discuss Minnesota’s business climate.

Second hour: Eisenhower farewell speech, a 50th anniversary panel discussion with David Gergen, James Fallows, and Susan Eisenhower.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Neal Conan and Political Junkie Ken Rudin look at the 2012 Senate.

Second hour: Historian Noah Andre Trudeau on the Civil War.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Koua Fong Lee is one of eight Minnesotans who tell their story in a new Minnesota History Center exhibit – “The Value of One Life”. Lee talks about what his life has been like since he was released from prison after serving two-and-a-half years for driving the car that killed three people. MPR’s Jessica Mador will have the story.

Scholars recently completed translation of 150 letters written by Dakota men held prisoner after the 1862 Dakota Conflict. The letters paint a harsh picture of life as a prisoner. MPR’s Dan Gunderson will report.

Euan Kerr will talk with Christian Lander, author of the satirical “Stuff White People Like.” He is out with “Whiter Shades of Pale,” which delves into regional differences of whiteness, including a section on Minnesota.

  • John O.

    The typo in that headline is……wait for it…


  • Ken Paulman

    Nebraska might be on to something. Maybe schools could hold gun shows to fund their music and art programs!

  • TJ

    those who drink at tailgating parties have 14 times greater odds of being legally drunk

    So…people who try to get drunk before the game have a 14x greater odds of being drunk. Go science!

  • Tyler

    Find me a teacher who could stand to pull the trigger on a student, even one carrying a gun. I bet they’re pretty rare.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Re – Sports and the Drunken Fan:

    “”How many of them were driving?” The Current’s Mary Lucia asked me yesterday.

    We don’t know. According to one publication, it would have been unethical to ask.”

    What publication was that?!? The Journal of the Alcoholic Beverages industry?!?