What Coaches Should Know About Underage Drinking

Coaches – You Can Influence Youth

Alcohol can impair your student’s sports performance for up to 72 hours. Alcohol can cause:

• Muscle cramps — During heavy exercise, burning sugar can produce lactic acid as a by-product. Too much lactic acid leads to muscle fatigue and cramps. Drinking can lead to a bigger buildup of lactic acid and increase the risk of cramping.
• Decreased endurance level — The blood sugar a body needs for energy is produced by the liver releasing glucose into the bloodstream. Alcohol reduces your ability to produce this sugar, so you have less energy and endurance.
• Slowed reaction time — Alcohol slows down the central nervous system and the brain’s ability to process information. As long as alcohol remains in the body, it can affect reaction time, coordination, accuracy, and balance—all of which are important to optimal performance in sports.

Take a Stand

• When talking to players, remember they relate more to messages about the immediate effects of alcohol use (such as poorer athletic performance) than to its long-term health threats.
• Openly acknowledge and support the understanding that underage drinking is considered an important issue at your school.
• Know the school policies about underage drinking and be ready to enforce the consequences of breaking those rules, even with your star players.
• Recognize your influence with young people. Don’t wear sportswear from alcohol-sponsored events, or share stories about past drinking.

Understand the Impact of Advertising on Youth

• Results from one study indicate that beer advertisements are a significant predictor of an adolescent’s knowledge, preference, and loyalty for beer brands, as well as current drinking behavior and intentions to drink.
• Television advertising changes attitudes about drinking. Young people report more positive feelings about drinking and their own likelihood to drink after viewing alcohol ads.
• The alcohol industry spends $2 billion per year on all media advertising.
• The beer brewing industry itself spent more than $770 million on television ads and $15 million on radio ads in 2000.