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September 05, 2004

College Students Rate Themselves In Fan Behavior Survey

FROM AN NCAA PRESS RELEASE come results of a research study on college fan behavior.

Although the PR report broad brushes the findings as indications of predominately good behavior by the preponderance of study subjects, a deeper dive at the numbers reveals some inconsistencies to that premise.

The study—“2004 Safe Celebration Study”—was touted as the first formal study of its kind to gauge fan behavior at college sporting events.

The survey consisted of in-person interviews with 986 college students aged 21-29 among “a representative sample of schools within the NCAA football and basketball divisions.”

The survey is part of a campaign by the NCAA, the National Association of
State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, the TEAM Coalition, and
Anheuser-Busch to encourage responsible fan behavior at college sporting
events across the country.

The inclusion of Anheuser-Busch on the campaign to encourage responsible fan behavior comes across as slightly suspicious.

On the one hand, it makes plenty of sense to have the world’s #1 brewer involved in efforts to promote responsible drinking. Know when to say when.

On the other hand, there seems to be a bit of a conflict of interest that clouds A-B’s objectivity in this initiative. Does “responsible drinking” mean less drinking? Probably. And if there’s less drinking, then aren’t less A-B products sold?

The study’s methodology included asking student-fans to agree (or “strongly” agree) or to disagree (or “strongly” disagree) to a series of statements concerning their own behavior and their perceptions of others’ behavior at college sporting events.

Among the more noteworthy findings:

• FEELING SAFE: The PR release portrayed as good news that 81% of students “always” feel safe during tailgating or pre-game parties. However, that rosy interpretation ignores the fact that 19% of students do not feel safe. That’s one out of five, and that seems like too many.

• DRINK RESPONSIBLY: 80% of students claimed they drink “responsibly and in moderation” during tailgating. And we’re supposed to believe them?

• STORM THE FIELD: While the PR release boasted that 86% of student-fans do NOT storm the field; the corollary is that 14% do storm the field. Thus, there are sometimes several thousand student-fans storming the field, approximately one of five who have admitted to drinking irresponsibly before and during the game.

Sounds like there’s still progress to be made.

Other survey findings:

• 93% of students say their behavior is responsible during tailgating or pre-game parties.

• 93% of students do not throw beverages.

• 92% of students do not fight with other fans.

• 86% of students do not storm the field.

(this 428 word excerpt—and attendant commentary--was distilled from a 1715 word press release of 9-2-04 from the NCAA)