Sport, Alcohol Use, and Youth in a Canadian Sample

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Although some research has demonstrated an association between sports activity and lower levels of alcohol consumption, contradictory research suggests alcohol use may be typical for adolescents involved in sport. To address these opposing findings and the current lack of Canadian data, this study examined whether adolescent drinking behaviors differed by gender, type, frequency, or context of sporting involvement in one school system in western Canada. Self-report questionnaires were completed by 497 grade 10 students. Results demonstrated that males reported consuming more alcohol than females. Student participation in sports outside of school was related to increased alcohol consumption. Students participating in hockey, boxing, or wrestling outside of school self-reported consuming significantly more alcohol than students who did not participate in these sports. Gender by sport interactions were also found. These findings suggest participation in sport is not a protective factor against alcohol use for all youth in this sample. Instead, there appear to be differences in alcohol use specific to sport, gender, context, and frequency of sporting involvement. This study informs coaches, educators, and parents regarding youth drinking behaviors in relation to sport, guide further research, and aid in the development of educational material in sport development programs.