Intercollegiate athletes have been identified as an at-risk group for heavy alcohol consumption. The purpose of the present study was to use a longitudinal design to assess for off-season versus in-season differences in alcohol consumption within a sample of intercollegiate athletes. Previous research has suggested that athletes drink less during their competitive seasons, but conclusions from this body of research have been tempered by methodological limitations in the previous studies. Results from 160 athletes competing at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I level indicated that alcohol use and negative alcohol-related consequences decreased during the athletes' competitive seasons. These results are interpreted in terms of the theory of planned behavior and social norms theory. Implications for alcohol prevention programs among college athletes are also addressed.
The authors are with the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology, State University of New York, Albany, NY 12222.