Drinking Games: A Causational Factor in Athlete Alcohol Consumption by jewski73


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        Drinking Games: A Causational Factor in Athlete Alcohol Consumption

                                Jared Andrzejewski

                                Kalamazoo College
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Intercollegiate athletes consume more alcoholic drinks per week than non-athletes. The purpose

of this study is to investigate factors contributing to athlete drinking, with a focus on drinking

games. Athletes are more likely to participate in drinking games because of their higher

competitiveness. Athletes and non-athletes will participate in two different social situations in

which alcohol consumption will be replicated in a laboratory. One social situation will have

drinking games present and the other will not. Data on amount of drinks consumed will be

recorded. When the drinking games are present, athletes will likely consume more alcohol than

non-athletes and athletes will likely play more drinking games than non-athletes. Alcohol

consumption by non-athletes will not likely change between social situations.
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            Drinking Games: A Causational Factor in Athlete Alcohol Consumption

       College is a time of increased social interactions and alcohol is often present at these

social interactions. The act of drinking has been engrained into the culture of college and is

common throughout many college campuses. Since alcohol and college are synonymous with

one another, many students believe that drinking is a right of passage upon entering college.

Research has shown every four out of five college students has used alcohol in the past year

(Leichliter, Meilman, Presley, & Cashin, 1998). As prevalence rates of drinking have increased,

it has become a greater health hazard to many college students throughout the United States.

       Almost one-half of all college students have reported binge drinking sometime during the

last two weeks (Dams-O’Connor, Martin & Martens, 2007). Binge drinking is defined as having

five or more drinks within one hour. A particular group of college students that is more

vulnerable to heavy alcohol use is athletes (Martens, Cox, Beck, 2003). This seems contradictory

as athletes need to be in peak physical shape to perform well. In addition, athletes have to

balance the demands of athletics and academics, meaning there is less time to engage in

drinking. These statements are all true, but research does not support these ideas. Studies have

suggested that athletes consume almost twice the amount of alcoholic drinks per week than

students who are not athletes (Leichliter, Meilman, Presley, & Cashin, 1998). Leichliter et al.,

(1998) also found that a greater number of athletes participate in binge drinking. Research

suggests that any college student participating in any athletic activity will consume larger

amounts of alcohol (Doumas, Turrisi, Coll, & Haralson, 2007).

       A number of developmental, emotional, and psychological problems usually cause this

form of high alcohol consumption (Martens, Dams-O’Connor, & Beck, 2006) Athletes have
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many of theses problems because athletes have a different social and academic environment than

traditional students. Athletes rely heavily on the athletic department for their social support, as

they are not very likely to participate in campus events that are not related to their sport (Martens

et al. 2006).

        Psychologists have proposed many specific factors that cause student-athletes to partake

in the excessive consumption of alcohol. These factors include: anxiety do to sport-related

pressure, pressure of public scrutiny, dealing with the emotional high and lows of competition,

influence of teammates, positive reinforcement, and coping with pain. The purpose of this study

is to further examine theses factors of athlete alcohol consumption, with a primary focus on the

effect of competitive nature within drinking games.

        The social norms theory is one model that helps explain why student-athletes drink more

than non-athletes do. With the social norm theory, individuals think that their peers consume

more alcohol than they do. A reason that they over estimate these values in alcohol consumption

is because athletes view college as place to engage in risky behavior (Dams-O’Connor, Martin,

& Martens, 2007). Athletes think it is perfectly normal to participate in heavy alcohol

consumption and believe alcohol will enhance social situations (Read, Wood, Kahler, Maddock,

and Palfai, 2003). These overestimations have an adverse effect on the amount of alcohol

consumed. Dams-O’Connor et al. suggests that when an athlete misperceives the frequency and

amount of typical drinks consumed, that athlete has a greater chance of trying to conform to this

normal social behavior and thus consumes more alcohol than before.

        Athletes are always in close proximity to one another, and thus they have the greatest

influence in each other’s behavior, this is especially true at universities (Dams-O’Connor et a
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