To Drink Or Not To Drink?
By Student-Athlete Libby O’Hare
As dedicated as athletes may be to their sport, they are still only human. With that comes the desire to experiment, the pressure to fit in, as well as the strain of social standards, particularly when it comes to something as familiar and pervasive as alcohol. From a young age, athletes learn that optimal achievement goes beyond dedication and determination on the field. In addition, the gift of athleticism bears the weight of prioritization, compromise, and value judgment. So, to drink or not to drink? What are the resulting implications of alcohol with high school and college athletes alike?
Although I encountered social drinking in high school, it didn’t take long for me to realize that college was a whole new beast. Almost immediately, I recognized the limitations and regulations athletes faced regarding alcohol and parties. From my knowledge, most college coaches never forbid drinking but instead administered rules for the team to abide by. For example, during the dual meet season, the swim team had what we called the ‘week rule,’ meaning we couldn’t drink for seven days before every competition. This rule was in place throughout the fall semester, but January 1st was the official start date of the dry season — where the team was completely sober for the two months leading up to championships.
While the swim team’s week rule and dry season were more strict than other sports on campus, unlike most teams, we didn’t have a precise rule about drinking before practice. Instead, the team collectively decided on some unwritten rules, and the rest was up to your discretion. Essentially, it was discouraged to drink before morning practice, but if you chose to do so, there was never a formal punishment; if anything, you would get a slap on the wrist from the captains. If you were caught breaking our coach mandated drinking rules, on the other hand, the punishment would be much more severe.
There is no ubiquitous rule that regulates athletes’ alcohol consumption — it’s entirely based on personal preferences and mutual agreements between athletes, coaches, and captains alike. It is possible that more serious athletes may not drink, but speaking from personal experience, athletes are not different from any other high school or college student, and with that comes the desire to, occasionally, drink socially and responsibly.