The Impact of Alcohol Use on the College Athlete Kirsten L. TautfestArgosy University OnlinePSY 492 XC Advanced General Psychology December 15, 2010
Introduction Alcohol use among college athletes has been a growing problem Reports in the media include Bar fights Drunk driving Under-aged drinking/fake ID’s.
Introduction - Influences Alcoholic beverage companies spend millions advertising during college sporting events. This adds to the complication when dealing with trying to get college athletes to refrain from drinking or at least drink in moderation. Team age spread from 18 to 24 compound further when teams get together outside of the watchful eyes of the coaches and trainers. Many college athletes are also members of Greek organizations, which are also known for higher rates of alcohol consumption (Turrisi, et al, 2006). Μπίρα
Scope Athletic participation used to be a protective element against alcohol use. A 1950’s survey found a majority of athletesdo not drink, nor do they binge drink, either alone or with the team (Turrisi, et al, 2007) What drives the urge to drink in the adult athlete when they know the risks to their career, legally and physically? How is social pressure from teammates and fans involved in an individual’s athlete’s decision to drink alcohol responsibly or, even worse, irresponsibly? How does an individual’s athlete’s base personality play into how the alcohol and peer pressure are handled? Does the drinking of alcohol mask another underlying psychological disorder like depression, or social affective disorder?
Motivations for consuming alcohol Stress Peer pressure “Be part of the team” (Wechsler & Wuethrich, 2002). Social reasons Primarily reported by males (Turrisi, et al, 2006).
Peer and social pressure Male student-athletes have been found to engage in binge drinking, defined as consuming 4 to 5 or more alcoholic drinks in one drinking episode, more often than the general student population (Yusko, et al, 2008(b)) This may be due to lack of opportunity, due to heavier schedule demands, especially when that student’s sport is in their competitive season (Yusko, et al, 2008 (a); Yusko, et al, 2008(b)). Jock identity correlates with binge drinking (Miller, et al, 2006). If an athlete drank alcohol in high school with their teammates as a bonding ritual (Miller, et al, 2006), it will carry over to alcohol use in college, whether or not the student is playing varsity college athletics (Martin, 1998).
Peer and social pressure (cont’d) Male athletes look more toward norms among their fellow teammates, while female athletes can be influences by non-athlete student peers more easily (Yusko, et al, 2008(b)). Student athletes, especially those in those in certain team sports, will report higher levels of drinking. Fear of disapproval (Yusko, et al, 2008(a)) Peer influence is quite heavy among athletic teams (Grossbard, et al, 2009). High athletic identity corresponds to greater influence of peers (Grossbard, et al, 2009).
Peer and social pressure (cont’d) Martin looked at women’s basketball, softball and volleyball and alcohol use (Martin, 1998). The frequency of binge drinking (4 or more drinks per episode) was significantly higher among the softball players both in-season and out-of-season (Martin, 1998). The aerobic demands of one sport over another, such as with basketball or track, may contribute to this difference (Martin, 1998). Other aerobically demanding sports have differing results , but they report high levels of drinking, 93.4% for women’s lacrosse and 95.6% for men’s hockey (Turrisi, et al, 2006). The ethnic makeup and cultural background of the student-athlete may have an influence. Women’s basketball players studied by Martin were largely from African-American, whereas lacrosse, hockey and softball tend to be Caucasian (Martin, 1998; Turrisi, et al, 2006). Nutritional counseling may have some influence on the female athlete, due to their traditional paying close attention to their own body’s image (Gutgesell, Moreau, & Thompson, 2003).
Underlying personality An introvert may drink more in social situations to combat anxiety. Team activities are social events. An athlete may consume more when they also suffer from social anxiety disorder or have high attachment avoidance (Doumas, Turrisi, & Wright, 2006). As noted earlier, social pressure including a sense of belonging to a team and participating in team activities off the playing surface do affect the athlete’s alcohol consumption levels (Yusko, et al, 2008(a)).
Underlying personality (cont’d) While athletic participation and physical activity is a method of stress reduction, athletes still find coping as a reason to drink (Turrisi, et al, 2006). Female athletes may not turn to drinking for a coping mechanism (Gutgesell, Moreau, & Thompson, 2003). Whether or not an individual drinks in order to cope with stress may have more to do with family influence rather than peer influence. Students, regardless of athletic affiliation, were more likely to abstain if their parents also abstained (Huang, et al, 2008).
Underlying Personality – Risk Takers A risk taker is more likely to engage in alcohol consumption (Doumas, Turrisi, & Wright, 2006; Yusko, et al, 2008(a)). Athletic participation is associated with this type of personality, especially competitive athletics (Miller, et al, 2006). Competitive season is associated with less alcohol consumption (Martin, 1998; Yusko, et al, 2008(b)). The alcohol’s feeling of pleasure in the beginning stages of consumption may serve as a replacement for the competitive high in the off-season.
Conclusion Athletes do use alcohol, but it appears to be at the same rate as the general college student population (Huang, et al, 2009). Yet, alcohol continues to be a problem in the college athlete, especially with under-age drinking. If athletes consumed alcohol in high school, then they were more likely to continue that behavior as they entered their college years. Peer pressure and the use of alcohol as a social lubricant, for those who are anxious around others, are two of the main reasons cited for drinking alcohol among athletes. A longitudinal study should be performed to prove or disprove these connections (Chen, Snyder, & Magner, 2010).
Under-aged Drinking Most of the studies used self-report surveys on 18-20 year olds. Underage drinking can lead to legal problems. Those problems can result in suspension, probation, or being completely kicked off the varsity team. Being under the legal drinking age is not a strong deterrent. A stronger emphasis on alcohol’s impact on individual athletic performance, especially as it relates to the overall team performance may be a stronger psychological deterrent among the younger athletes.
Female Athletes Alcohol consumption can lead to making poor decisions. One wrong poor sexual decision at the right biological time can lead to pregnancy or, worse, disease. Pregnancy can lead to being removed from athletic team eligibility, for a year. Hormonal birth control protects against pregnancy, but does not protect against STI’s. Female athletes have reported less sexual activity than among their non-athlete female peers (Chen, Snyder, & Magner, 2010).
Recommendations Athletic trainers and coaches need to address the use of alcohol among their student athletes, especially those who are under the legal age. NCAA currently requires an alcohol awareness education as part of a student-athletics program (Umphress, 2010). Alcohol education program should extend beyond just a one-time seminar before the start of the competitive season. The following should be emphasized: Legal issues If a star player gets into trouble with the law for his drinking before a big game, the rest of the team may be adversely affected. Health issues. With the findings that alcohol use drops with a rise in religious involvement (Huang, et al, 2009), utilizing groups such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes would be prudent.
References Chen, S., Snyder, S., and Magner, M. (2010). The effects of sport participation on student-athletes’ and non-athlete students’ social life and identity. Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics, (3). Pp. 176-193. Doumas, D. M., Turrisi, R., and Wright, D. A. (2006). Risk factors for heavy drinking and associated consequences in college freshmen: athletic status and adult attachment. Sport Psychologist, (20). Pp. 419-434. Retrieved on November 1, 2010 from http://education.boisestate.edu/instituteforthestudyofaddiction/PDF/RiskFactors.pdf Grossbard, J. R., Geisner, I. M., Mastroleo, N. R., Kilmer, J. R., Turrisi, R., and Larimer, M. E. (2009). Athletic identity, descriptive norms, and drinking among athletes transitioning to college. Addictive Behavior, 34(4). Pp. 352-359. Gutgesell, M. E., Moreau, K. L., and Thompson, D. L. (2003). Weight concerns, problem eating behaviors, and problem drinking behaviors in female collegiate athletes. Journal of Athletic Training, 38(1). Pp. 62-66. Huang, J., DeJong, W., Towvim, L. G., and Schneider, S. K. (2009). Sociodemographic and psychobehavioral characteristics of US college students who abstain from alcohol. Journal of American College Health, 57(4). Pp. 395 – 410. Martin, M. (1998). The use of alcohol among NCAA Division I female college basketball, softball, and volleyball athletes. Journal of Athletic Training, (33)2. Pp. 163-167. Miller, K. E., Melnick, M. J., Farrell, M. P., Sabo, D. F., Barnes, G. M. (2006, January). Jocks, gender, binge drinking, and adolescent violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, (21)1. Pp. 105-120. Meyerson, C. (2010, August 30). Cowboy notebook: Gundy discusses player statuses and new role. Daily O’Collegian. Retrieved on November 23, 2010 from http://www.ocolly.com/sports/cowboy-notebook-1.1547104 Redandblack.com (2010, July 10). Bulldog TB Jackson charged with DUI, leaving scene of accident; Tavarres King charged with underage possession. Retrieved on November 22, 2010 from http://www.redandblack.com/2010/07/10/bulldog-tb-jackson-charged-with-dui-leaving-scene-of-accident/ Slater, A. and Meyerson, C. (2010, October 27). Justin Blackmon suspended. Daily O’Collegian. Retrieved on November 23, 2010 from http://www.ocolly.com/sports/justin-blackmon-suspended-1.1731852 Turrissi, R. Mallett, K. A., Mastroleo, N. R., and Larimer, M. E. (2006). Heavy drinking in college students: who is at risk and what is being done about it? Journal of General Psychology,133(4). Pp. 401-420. Turrisi, R., Mastroleo, N. R., Mallett, K. A., Larimer, M. E., and Kilmer, J. R. (2007 December). Examination of the meditational influences of peer norms, environmental influences, and parent communications on heavy drinking in athletes and nonathletes. Psychology of Addictive Behavior, 21(4). Pp. 453-461. Umphress, R. (2010, November 4). Athletes: reflecting Ball State: pressure, publicity, perks all go in to being Ball State student athlete. BSU Daily News. Retrieved on November 23, 2010 from http://www.bsudailynews.com/athletes-reflecting-ball-state-1.2393798?MMode=true Wechsler, H. and Wuethrich, B. (2002). Dying to drink: confronting binge drinking on college campuses. United States: Rodale/St. Martin’s Press. WTHR. (2010, September 4). 11 Notre Dame athletes arrested on drinking charges. Retreived on November 22, 2010 from http://www.wthr.com/story/12827014/11-notre-dame-athletes-arrested-on-drinking-charges?redirected=true Yusko, D. A., Buckman, J. F., White, H. R. and Pandina, R. J. (2008). Risk for excessive alcohol use and drinking-related problems in college student athletes. Addictive Behavior, 33(12). Pp. 1546-1556. Yusko, D. A., Buckman, J. F., White, H. R. and Pandina, R. J. (2008). Alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and performance enhancers: a comparison of use by college student athletes and nonathletes. Journal of American College Health, (57)3. Pp. 281-290.