The Return of Sports and Staying Sober

The advent of COVID-19 affected the social lives and entertainment schedules of many people. One of the biggest adjustments for sports fans this year has been the loss or delay of live games such as football, basketball, baseball, and hockey. Many people experienced a real feeling of deprivation when they spent months without watching regular seasons of their favorite sports. The slow return of televised sports has been a welcome event for many people who have missed it. Still, it has also brought about the risk of temptation for those who associate watching a game with drinking. 

The Association Between Sports and Alcohol

Many sports fans have memories of family members enjoying a cold one while watching Sunday football or gathering with a few friends to drink while watching the World Series. Strong associations are made between drinking and watching sports. Many men have a strong memory of their dad giving them their first sip of a beer while watching the game together. As an adult, these memories become formative experiences for the addicted person. They, in turn, may want to pass this same ritual on to their child.

Going to Games Can Pose a Risk

The temptation to drink alcohol at a sports event can start before a person even gets to their seat. Tailgate parties held in the parking lots before a game are popular events that attract many fans who want to celebrate their team before they go inside the ballpark or stadium. Many people prepare food like grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. There is a definite focus on the pregame ritual of drinking alcohol. It’s not an issue for those who can take or leave a cold brew, but for those living a sober life, it can be challenging to pass up on what was once part of the fun of game day. While pregaming parking lot parties are generally not allowed now due to COVID-19, they will no doubt ramp up again as sports returns to a more regular schedule. 

Once seated inside the facility, a sports fan is still surrounded by the opportunity to engage in drinking. The long lines at concession stands showcase the popularity of opting for a drink during the game. Many modern sports facilities have actual bar seating and restaurants inside them, giving fans myriad options for satisfying their thirst. If someone is not inclined to leave their seat, they can still procure a drink from the concession stand employees who make regular rounds of hawking drinks. 

Couch Surfing and Sobriety

Someone who is in recovery from alcohol abuse may avoid attending games in person but still find the desire to drink is strong when watching a game on television. They may be used to watching a game solo at home and chugging a beer. Others may be part of a group that gets together to cheer on their favorite team over appetizers and alcohol. Whether the ritual takes place at home, while visiting others, or in a sports bar, someone struggling with sobriety may find that the return of sports is not a strictly fun development. It may challenge their ability to remain sober. 

Tips for Staying Sober While Enjoying Sports

If a person stays at home to watch a game on TV, they have greater control over whether there is alcohol in the house. If watching an entire game feels like too much, try recording the game and watching it in segments. Avoiding news or other sources that might spoil the final score allows an individual to take their time viewing the game with built-in breaks for moments of temptation. 

Invitations to go to someone’s home or out to a public place that televises sports should be weighed carefully. Early in their recovery, a person may want to avoid those sorts of temptations until they feel stronger. If they have friends or family members who are also sober or happy to support their sobriety, invite a small group over on game day, making it clear it’s a no-alcohol event. Ordering pizza or serving some simple snack foods can help the event feel social without inviting temptation to drink. 

Going to see a game in person can be an exciting experience after months spent in lockdown. Make plans in advance to help reduce cravings to drink, such as avoiding tailgate events. Choose someone who understands what’s at stake and will be happy to accompany their loved one to enjoy the thrill of a live game again without drinking or encouraging alcohol consumption. Focus on the details of the game itself, the joy of going out and doing something that you’ve missed, and remind yourself that staying sober is a day-to-day, choice-by-choice achievement. 


For sports fans, the loss or delay of football, baseball, basketball, and other sports has been difficult. Now that games are being played again, while many people rejoice, it can be difficult for people struggling to stay sober. The association between drinking and watching sports is a huge one, making it essential for fans who watch a game at home or in-person to be vigilant about temptation. Valiant Living understands how to help people achieve and maintain their sobriety. We offer detox, recovery housing, transitional services, relapse prevention, and more. Our men-only facilities offer professional support and privacy that allows our clients to take charge of their lives again. We also treat co-occurring mental illness issues, giving you the chance to become a healthier you for the new year. Call us today to find out how our beautiful Denver area location can help you get sober! (303) 952-5035