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Exploring the Sport–Alcohol Relationship: A Longitudinal Qualitative Study of Student-Athlete Drinking Following the Transition out of University

Mark Jankowski, Sarah Partington, Nick Heather, and Elizabeth Partington

The purpose of this study was to provide new knowledge about the temporal and contextual aspects of the alcohol–sport relationship. Eight U.K. student-athletes completed the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test in their final year at university, 18 months, and 30 months after graduation. They also completed semistructured interviews about their drinking motives, behaviors, and life circumstances. Results showed that participants reduced their alcohol consumption after leaving university, but despite the onset of some adult responsibilities, most were still drinking at hazardous levels. After university, drinking took place with old friends, new colleagues, and new sporting teammates. At all time points, social drinking motives were the most prevalent. Findings demonstrate a relationship between alcohol and sport that is cemented at university but continues beyond it. Targeted interventions to reduce the role of alcohol in the social experience of sport are needed to support long-term athlete health.

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Drinking Outcome Expectancies and Normative Perceptions of Students Engaged in University Sport in England

Fran Longstaff, Nick Heather, Susan Allsop, Elizabeth Partington, Mark Jankowski, Helen Wareham, A. St Clair Gibson, and Sarah Partington

This study examined whether students engaged in university sport have different drinking outcome expectancies and normative beliefs than students who are not engaged in university sport. A cross-sectional survey of university students in England in 2008–2009 was undertaken. A questionnaire battery, including the Drinking Expectancies Questionnaire (DEQ) and a measure of normative beliefs, was completed by 770 students from seven universities across England. Responses from 638 students who were not abstaining from alcohol were analyzed. Students engaged in university sport have significantly higher drinking expectancies of assertion compared with students not engaged in university sport. Moreover, students engaged in university sport consistently report higher personal alcohol consumption and higher perceptions of consumption in those around them than students not engaged in university sport. Both assertion and the perception that students around them drink heavily provide only a partial explanation for why students engaged in university sport drink more than those not engaged in university sport. Further research is required to identify the reasons for heavy drinking among students involved in university sport in England.