Athletes, Fraternity Men Are Top Drinkers

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Male college athletes consume about 50 percent more alcohol than their counterparts who don't participate in intercollegiate sports, a record beaten only by college fraternity members, as shown in a study published by the Core Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in the May issue of the Journal of American College Health.

Men on intercollegiate sports teams consume 10 alcoholic drinks a week, or 52 percent more than non-athletes, who average six drinks a week. College fraternity members consume 12 drinks a week on average.

The drinking practices of team leaders revealed in the study are of concern to Philip W. Meilman, the Core Institute's co-director and director of counseling and psychological services at Cornell University: 64 percent of male team leaders say they binge on alcohol, while 61 percent of their teammates report binging. By comparison, 45 percent of males not on intercollegiate sports teams reported that they binge drink. (Binging is defined as consuming five or more drinks in one sitting.)

Female athletes are flirting with trouble, too, the report shows. Nearly half (49 percent) of women team leaders admit they binge drink, a practice followed by 47 percent of their teammates and 31 percent of college women not on athletic teams. Female players drank an average of four drinks per week, or one drink more than their non-athletic sisters consumed.

"Team leaders appear to abuse alcohol to a somewhat greater extent than their teammates," Meilman says. "One would hope that they could serve as better role models. College athletic programs need to work harder on fostering positive leadership practices in their team captains. These are the students who set the norms, and they can be a force for good."

A total of 51,483 students on 125 college campuses across the United States answered the survey during the 1994 through 1996 school years. Among them

Contact: Linda Grace-Kobas
Cornell University News Service

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