I can’t count the number of times I’ve written about this issue of use and misuse of alcohol by athletes, especially high school athletes (I am a high school teacher and former high school coach). In fact, I was thinking of referencing those past articles for this piece, however, they are just too numerous and varied to fit well with my discussion here. A discussion where I reference a great piece by Janis Meredith at redding.com, Alcohol and athletics don't mix, which emphasizes a significant number of important aspects athletes should know about regarding their use of alcohol.
My plan is to keep this pretty short and sweet by encouraging you to read through (and pass along) Ms. Meredith’s cautions, as I would like to spend my time focusing the excuse piece some might use to justify continued use. This will be in addition to one very strong reminder.
You see teaching high school age students give one an advantage regarding their thought process. After 33+ years you get a good feel for how they might respond to the detrimental effects listed in the referenced article above. Some that include:
“Alcohol causes dehydration and slows the body's ability to heal. When dehydrated, an athlete is at greater risk for musculoskeletal injuries, including cramps, muscle pulls and muscle strains.”
“Alcohol use prevents muscle recovery.”
“Alcohol impairs reaction time and mental sharpness for up to several days after consumption. It decreases hand-eye coordination and clouds judgment.”
“Consuming five or more alcoholic beverages in one night can affect brain and body activities for up to three days; in two consecutive nights, for up to five days.”
And there are more than what I have listed here; keep that in mind as you read further.
So, what might a high school athlete say to themselves to justify continuing to “party on.” Well…it might go something like this:
C’mon now, I know many athletes, friends, who drink every weekend and I don’t see those detrimental effects you list. Heck, I know a guy who was a state champ, went on to college to play his sport, and he drank all the time.
Oh so common for high school age students (athletes), even adults sometimes, to see only what “is” from the standpoint of what happened to some, and not carry the depth of vision it would take to see “what could be” if different choices had been made.
Sure, there are conference, regional, sectional, even state champs who accomplished what they did and did not abstain from the use of alcohol. Heck, throw in All-Americans, National Champions, Olympic Champions, and MVP professional athletes who likely, no positively, did the same. But…did any of these athletes truly reach their athletic potential? Did they become all that they could have become? Me…I don’t think so, but that’s me.
So if one wants to bank on the chance that they will accomplish what they want by not heeding the cautions in Janis Meredith’s piece, I suppose, that is their choice. However, a true champion, one seeking to actually reach the best that THEY can be, well…the commitment they have to that goal, their strength of character, for them there is only one choice. And it is the kind of choice that puts more chips in one’s favor.
Oh, and that very strong reminder I referred to above. That centers on the athletic code an athlete signs each year before their season. You know, their solemn promise to their school, coach, teammates, and parents that they WILL abide by the rules set forth in that code of ethical standards. One which does include the abstinence from the use of alcohol and other drugs.
There are never any guarantees that one will actually reach the ultimate level of potential they have within, but one thing is for sure, an absolute if you will, their chances are always better when decisions they make come from a place of solid character. No question about that.
Nice piece Meredith, keep up the good work!!!