Erectile Dysfunction and Yankees Fans

Today Jeffrey Goldberg writes about his son's first brush with the slew of erectile dysfunction ads as they tried to watch a baseball game on TV this weekend. Goldberg's miffed:

The game starts up and I duck the subject for a while, until the next commercial break, which features a commercial for Levitra. Unbelievable. Does Broken-Johnson Syndrome afflict all Yankees' fans, or just most? I'm a pretty diehard Yankees supporter, but if this is the ultimate price, I would even pull for Boston.

To be sure, Levitra knows what its doing by advertising to baseball fans, especially those likely to hail from New York. After all, most of these fans are middle aged, New Yorkers are innate stress crucibles, and you can't feel terribly libidinous when you're losing to the lowly Cleveland Indians 22-4 on a half-a-billion-dollar roster. But most Yankees fans? Please.*

A look at the numbers. The statistics say ED afflicts one out of ten men, but more telling, those numbers shoot up to 39% at age 40 and 65% over the age of 65. And baseball fans are aging rapidly. According to a 2002 Gallup poll, about 50% of every age group between 18 and 65 self-identifies as a baseball fan, but the 18-49 age group has fallen ten percentage points while the 65+ group has gained ten percentage points in the last half century. If the statistics hold, that means 32.5% of men over 65 - about five million people - are watching baseball and paying particularly close attention to the ED ads. If you multiplied across the whole middle aged baseball-watching spectrum, Levitra could be looking at an audience of around 15 million men.

That's a great market, and New York specifically is a potential jackpot. It's not just the stressing, it's the smoking. Secondhand smoke exposure is insanely high for New Yorkers, according to this very recent study that found up to 57% of nonsmoking New Yorkers had internalized significant levels of residual secondhand smoke. Smoke - even the secondhand stuff - can constrict blood flow, so that a man who smokes more than 1 pack per day increases his chances of ED by 50%. That's a not-insignificant slice of the Big Apple.

So to answer Goldberg specifically: There's no way that ED cases are five times higher among Yankees fans than the general public, but baseball's aging population combined with the stress and smoking factors inherent to New York might make it especially prevalent among its home fans. With that in mind, maybe Levitra et al should spend a little more on stadium sponsoring and less on commercial ads, if only to give life to the "Earth Dissection" fib.

*I am a Yankees fan.