Alcohol use among college athletes: do intercollegiate, club, or intramural student athletes drink differently? Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Varsity student athletes are a high-risk drinking group, exhibiting a greater propensity to binge drink than their non-sport peers. Moreover, as intercollegiate athletic involvement increases, so too does alcohol consumption. There is little research, however, which examines drinking behaviors of students who participate in nonvarsity athletics. OBJECTIVES: Identify differences in alcohol-related behaviors and associated consequences among U.S. varsity, club, and intramural athletes, and nonathlete college students. METHODS: Secondary data analysis of the 2011 National College Health Assessment (n = 29,939). RESULTS: Intramural athletes binge drank more frequently (M = 1.1, SD = 1.7) than club athletes (M = 1.0, SD = 1.6), intercollegiate athletes (M = 0.9, SD = 1.5), and nonathletes (M = 0.6, SD = 1.3) and also experienced greater alcohol-related consequences. Intramural athletes consumed the most during their last drinking episode (M = 4.1, SD = 4.0) and reached the highest blood alcohol concentration (BAC) (M = 0.062, SD = 0.09).Compared to club and varsity athletes [M = 0.8, SD = 1.4; t (8,131) = -9.6, p < .001], intramural-only athletes reported binge drinking significantly more frequently (M = 1.2, SD = 1.7) and also reached significantly higher BACs during most recent drinking episode (M = 0.064, SD = 0.08) than organized sport athletes [M = 0.057, SD = 0.08; t (8,050) = -3.0, p = .003]. CONCLUSIONS: Intramural athletes represent a higher-risk drinking group than other athlete and nonathlete college students. Future research should investigate factors contributing to drinking differences among different athlete groups.

published proceedings

  • Subst Use Misuse

altmetric score

  • 3.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Barry, A. E., Howell, S. M., Riplinger, A., & Piazza-Gardner, A. K.

citation count

  • 28

complete list of authors

  • Barry, Adam E||Howell, Steven M||Riplinger, Adam||Piazza-Gardner, Anna K

publication date

  • February 2015