Drinking & Athletics...ever get caught?

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    Feb 19, 2011 2:59 PM GMT
    I need some advice!

    I coach high school Cross Country/Track & Field and just got a call from my top distance runner saying he got caught drinking last night by the asst principal. Our teams are lectured on this repeatedly, but still, the kids drink. We have a no tolerance rule, so if caught between seasons you can't compete in 30% of the next season, and you lose 100% of your season if caught during (if less than 30% of the season remains it carries over to your next season). We're not sure if this will be a between season or in-season ruling due to the current indoor track season still in progress (state championship meet of champions is today) but he didn't advance this far.

    I was speechless. Totally blindsided by this and never expected it from this athlete. Didn't know what to say. He said his parents reacted the same way. He couldn't finish the conversation because he was crying, and that he would have to call back. Not looking forward to it and hope he waits until after I get back from the meet - not a great conversation to have with 1500 other people milling around.

    Did this happen to any of you? Did any parents or coaches have some great words that I could pass along?
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    Feb 19, 2011 4:56 PM GMT
    runnerjc saidI need some advice!

    I coach high school Cross Country/Track & Field and just got a call from my top distance runner saying he got caught drinking last night by the asst principal. Our teams are lectured on this repeatedly, but still, the kids drink. We have a no tolerance rule, so if caught between seasons you can't compete in 30% of the next season, and you lose 100% of your season if caught during (if less than 30% of the season remains it carries over to your next season). We're not sure if this will be a between season or in-season ruling due to the current indoor track season still in progress (state championship meet of champions is today) but he didn't advance this far.

    I was speechless. Totally blindsided by this and never expected it from this athlete. Didn't know what to say. He said his parents reacted the same way. He couldn't finish the conversation because he was crying, and that he would have to call back. Not looking forward to it and hope he waits until after I get back from the meet - not a great conversation to have with 1500 other people milling around.

    Did this happen to any of you? Did any parents or coaches have some great words that I could pass along?


    You already kno. Even tho I was a late bloomer and didn't start experimenting til the 12th grade, most of my friends had started smoking pot or drinking frm their parents wet bars by 8th or 9th grade. I understand the need to try and minimize the use of substances but reallyicon_rolleyes.gif
  • xKorix

    Posts: 607

    Feb 19, 2011 5:17 PM GMT
    No idea why we're so hard on these kids. Can't Imagine the alcoholism and other things professional grown-up athletes do that nobody bats an eye at and that people will easily make excuses for.
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    Feb 19, 2011 5:22 PM GMT
    runnerjc saidI coach high school Cross Country/Track & Field and just got a call from my top distance runner saying he got caught drinking last night by the asst principal.

    Do you know the circumstances under which he got "caught"? How did the Asst. Principal do this at night?
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    Feb 19, 2011 5:30 PM GMT
    Hello, coach!

    From one coach to another, I know that this is personally difficult. We hate for our athletes to make bad choices and do all we can to avoid that.

    That being said, the rules are the rules. And you cannot set-aside a zero-tolerance policy for one individual. There are consequences for our actions. This is how the adult world works...and perhaps that's the way to proceed.

    You can express confidence in and compassion for your athlete. You can tell him that you are confused and disappointed by his decision to drink. And you can be the one to soften the blow. The rules still apply. Give him hope and encouragement that he can learn from this situation and that he can overcome the setback.

    I'm sure you'll agree that some of the greatest coaching we do doesn't have much to do with the sports we coach, but the life-lessons we guide our athletes through.

    Best of luck to you (and your athlete)!
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    Feb 19, 2011 5:30 PM GMT
    Personally I think it is unreasonable to expect kids to not experiment. Part of the problem with a no-tolerance approach is it becomes impossible to teach children healthy/social ways of drinking. Put it in my perspective. I'm told not to drink by the schools, that it is bad etc then I go to family reunions and everyone is drinking. It's mixed messages.
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    Feb 19, 2011 5:36 PM GMT
    Ok, so there's the usual-- he's underage so drinking is illegal.

    What will be more effective, though, is that he is an athlete. His body is effectively a well-tuned machine. Alcohol is a poison. It will negatively affect his performance.


    I had been on the other side. I did crew in high school, which was offered through the city, not my high school. On the 9 hour bus ride back home after Cal Juniors (the final event of the season) enough people smuggled alcohol on the bus to have a party. Yes, we were high school-age athletes and we were drinking on a bus with our coaches present. We tried to be low key, but maybe they turned a blind eye as well.

    There were also the times on my college frosh/novice crew team. During off-season Saturday morning practice you could smell plenty of people sweating out the alcohol. Not a pleasant odor at all.
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    Feb 19, 2011 5:49 PM GMT
    Although it may be considered extreme to compare high school athletes to professional athletes, the issue of performance-enhancing effects of drugs remains the same. This thesis, titled "Better, Stronger, Faster: Explaining the Variance Between Professional and Amateur Anti-Doping Policies," may provide some rationale.

    Specifically, section 4.2.3 (Management: Amateur Sport): "Relating to sports perception is the subject of management. Amateur sport is typically regulated by local or international associations. At the international level, regulation is aimed at keeping the playing field level due to the links with diplomacy and international relations. At all levels, management aims to uphold the moral code that sport is meant to embody. One characteristic that most amateur sport shares is that much of their funding is supported by governments and external contributors; therefore, amateurs are forced to behave in a manner that pleases their sponsors. This results in highly controlled policy and low tolerance for those individuals who break protocol."

    Athletes that dedicate their lives in obscurity for a chance at the Olympics know that even caffeine in their system could've prevented them from competing (not sure if it has been dropped from the banned list). It will be a difficult balance to try to explain the rationale behind the policies to your top runner during this phase of his athletic career.
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    Feb 19, 2011 10:03 PM GMT
    Thought I'd provide an update after just getting off the phone with the athlete caught drinking. He was at the hockey game last night, which was a big game because it was the first ever outdoor game in school history. He was tailgating and succumbed to peer pressure. The ironic part is he originally was going with somebody that was smoking and switched cars because of it.

    Anyway, doesn't remember much. Remembers the asst principal coming over, then waking up at home and that's about it. He was told that he got violently sick and that the kids he was with sought out the asst principal for help. His dad almost took him to the hospital. Don't know what will happen with the other kids.

    The good news is he's taking full responsibility for his bad decision. He's getting a better understanding of why we adults say to walk away from those situations and make a phone call- that bad things will happen if you put yourself in potentially bad situations. He also understands now that he never should have gotten in the car and that he's lucky to be alive.

    I asked if he would be willing to give a testimonial about his experience when the outdoor track season starts and he said yes. My experience is that words sometimes mean more coming from a peer than from an adult and his "don't do what I did" talk will have a greater impact than it might from us coaches.
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    Feb 19, 2011 10:31 PM GMT
    runnerjc saidI asked if he would be willing to give a testimonial about his experience when the outdoor track season starts and he said yes.

    I hope the school will make some allowance for his willingness to speak publicly about the incident, and maybe he can play again a little early in his suspension, assuming he's less than a Senior and has another year left.

    But I know school administrators in general tend to be a bunch of bullies to the students, who would rather hurt than help kids, more punishers than protectors, terrorists instead of teachers. Still, maybe your influence can make a difference.
  • TheIStrat

    Posts: 777

    Feb 19, 2011 10:36 PM GMT
    You need to follow the rules. It will teach him a valuable lesson on what happens when you break rules and are caught. In the grand scheme of things, not being able to compete for a year or just 30% of it is a lot less than getting fired from a job. Or losing a home. Or going to prison.
  • safety43_mma1...

    Posts: 4251

    Feb 19, 2011 10:42 PM GMT
    ok here it goes great forum. i was a good athlete in high school and most of my friends were too and we would drink on the weekends. and i think it happens more then parents and coaches know. we r people too, and allowed to make mistakes. and no we never got caught, but i alos know the coaches had to have known we werent exactly smart back then.
  • brycetippe

    Posts: 688

    Feb 19, 2011 10:45 PM GMT
    That's a little drastic.
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    Feb 19, 2011 10:45 PM GMT
    Lost a soccer scholarship icon_redface.gif
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    Feb 19, 2011 11:05 PM GMT
    Rules will be followed! That was never in doubt.

    Another rule I didn't mention is that anybody caught loses all eligibilty to be a captain for the next 365 days. Said athlete was under consideration for captaincy during the spring after having done a great job as captain during the fall and winter seasons.

    Yes, he's a senior. He was in the midst of completing a scholarship application and has chosen not to finish it, feeling he no longer deserves to nominate himself. Right decision.

    Safety43...you're absolutely right. Teens drink way more than their parents are aware of. Most are parents that don't participate in their child's activities - parental involvement is huge in teen bahavior and there's way too little of it.
  • mizu5

    Posts: 2599

    Feb 19, 2011 11:09 PM GMT
    It's a little drastic.

    When i was on the national team we drank all the time, as still did very well.

    I know you are not asking if the rule is important, I'm merely stating I don't beleive a 0 tolerance rule for drinking really is appropriate.
  • jock_1

    Posts: 1492

    Feb 19, 2011 11:21 PM GMT
    wow, he is learning a hard lesson in life but he needs to realize what he did was wrong and those actions have consiquenses. my life lesson learned..... i was at an under age party in high school...didnt drink but my 2 best friends did. I was supposed to ride home with them that night but missed the ride and caught another about an hour later. They both were killed in a crash and to this day i still live with the pain of that night and will share that story with every kid in school i know.

    tell the kid it might feel bad now but it could have been alot worse
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 19, 2011 11:30 PM GMT
    Erm. Hello. It's a drink. It's not like he murdered someone. You American's are so dramatic.
  • jock_1

    Posts: 1492

    Feb 19, 2011 11:34 PM GMT
    redheadguy saidErm. Hello. It's a drink. It's not like he murdered someone. You American's are so dramatic.


    HELLO ?? he got violenly sick and almost had to go to the hospitol, i think it was more that one drink
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    Feb 20, 2011 1:22 AM GMT
    Does alcohol consumption effect athletic performance? Yes. This is from the American Athletic Institute:

    •Drinking to intoxication can negate as much as fourteen days of training effect
    •Training hormones are diminished for up to 96 hours following alcohol consumption (4 days)
    •Drinking alcohol after training negates training effect
    •Drinking alcohol after competition hinders recovery
    •Residual effect of alcohol from elite athlete lab test shows effect on Heart Rate, Lactic Acid / Muscle Performance and Respiratory/ Ventilation levels.
    •Muscle protein synthesis (repair of muscle fiber) is diminished, predominately in your fast twitch muscle fibers
    •B vitamin deficiency resulting from diuretic effect of alcohol and subsequent dehydration affects recovery and conversion of hormone precursors into androgenic training hormones
    •Reaction time can be affected even twelve hours after alcohol consumption.
    •Players that drink are twice as likely to become injured
    •Alcohol compromises an athletes already vulnerable immune system
    •The associated residual effect of the alcoholic hangover has been shown to reduce athletic performance by 11.4%

    Simply put, excessive alcohol consumption is severely detrimental to your individual performance and subsequently, the teams performance.

    And yes, it is a privilege to compete on a school team, not a right. There are certain academic standards to be met as well as behavioral expectations, which are all spelled out very clearly in our student-athlete handbook (signed by sa and parent). Simply being enrolled in school doesn't entitle anybody to participate.
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    Feb 20, 2011 1:34 AM GMT
    This is something I've wondered about on a sport by sport basis...the LAX season is starting up and I help a few times a week at a nearby HS working with some mid-fielders, and have a more casual relationship with them - these guys have access to wikipedia, health information, legal information...you name it, but the problem is they don't have the reasoning to put it all together yet.

    We were talking about fund-raisers and a few of them brought up the joking idea of selling pot - I took that as a chance to talk to them about how aside from the consequences of discipline from the school, getting kicked off the team / suspended, college issues, possible loss of financial aid if you have a drug charge on your record...but also just discussed the obvious health effects, but I didn't tow the company line and be like "NO WAI I TOTALLY NEVER / DON'T SMOKE EVER" because I feel like a big part of their shucking and brushing off what a lot of their teachers / coaches / trainers tell them they don't really take to heart because they feel (like I'm sure a lot of us did growing up) that people in the school system can be so fake - so I told them that if they truly want to take their sport seriously, respect their team, and their community, they should wait until the appropriate age and place to "enjoy their choices, whatever those might be."

    Having said that, I knew a boatload of great players from good teams that were sort of like the health-conscious drinkers and smokers (herb), as far as just having a few light beers in private (of age) and using a vaporizer to greatly reduce the effects of smoke on the cardiovascular system.

    IMO it takes close teamwork, good leadership, and a willingness to have a real conversation with younger players of any sport about drugs from alcohol to steroids, but it's a sucky situation trying to balance all the things on their plates.

    $0.02 / out

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    Feb 20, 2011 1:42 AM GMT
    yet there are no other policies regarding diet, sleep, curfews???

    I have watched (for decades) world class athletes eat crap, run around all night etc without consequence and still perform at the level of the competition they're in.

    It sounds to me like some multi-layered bullshit policy that is driven by people who on the one hand are ready to attack based on regulation yet are never willing to accept any criticism for $hit coaching. "he didn't advance this far".
    my great words of advice are "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" or "In the Kingdom of the Blind the One-Eyed Are Kings".

    who are you to impose these rules? a high school coach? are you kidding me?
    Pass along that he best find a different high school with better coaches.
    Get off his back already.
  • mizu5

    Posts: 2599

    Feb 20, 2011 1:48 AM GMT
    jock_1 said
    redheadguy saidErm. Hello. It's a drink. It's not like he murdered someone. You American's are so dramatic.


    HELLO ?? he got violenly sick and almost had to go to the hospitol, i think it was more that one drink
    He puked, that doesn;'t mean h almsot had to go to the hospital, it was merely states his father considered it. Often it's not needed, puking =/= serious medical attntion is necessary.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 20, 2011 1:51 AM GMT
    redheadguy saidErm. Hello. It's a drink. It's not like he murdered someone. You American's are so dramatic.

    Aren't we? And so black & white. There's rarely a chance to explain. It's one strike and you're out, no questions asked.
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    Feb 20, 2011 1:55 AM GMT
    Even abstinence can be overdone

    Someone needs to teach American teenagers how to drink responsibly. Ideally it should be the parents who do this and it should happen before the kid goes off to college.

    That student wasn't caught drinking, he drank himself into some state of unconsciousness, which he probably wouldn't have, if he had had some experience of how much he can tolerate.