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Sobering Facts About Teenage Drinking and Athletes

Posted Saturday, February 27, 2010 by Louis Gambeski

The message John Underwood presented was a sobering one

October 19th, 2009

Sobering facts about alcohol use and athletes

CoachesAid.com New Mexico Content Coordinator

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The message John Underwood presented was a sobering one.

 

And perhaps even more sobering was the size of his audience.

Just a handful of athletes and coaches were on hand Tuesday evening to hear Underwood of the American Athletic Institute in Lake Placid, N.Y. His afternoon session was somewhat better attended, but still represented a tiny portion of the athletes and coaches in the Albuquerque metro area.

But for those who attended, the message came across loud and clear.

“I got a lot out of it,” said Louis Nutall, a Manzano junior who’s on the Monarchs basketball team. “It showed me that you can get much more by being yourself and going through life without having to party. The physical and mental strain that it puts on your body; it’s not worth it. It really isn’t.”

That was something that Underwood tried to drive home.

“It’s not about Xs and Os and methods of training,” he said. “It’s about methods of living.”

John Underwood of the American Athletic Institute, discusses the problems of alcohol and drug use for athletes.

Slide after slide showed the detrimental effects of alcohol and marijuana on an athlete. Slide after slide showed the decline of the alcohol-addled mind.

Yet this problem, Underwood said, is prevalent through the athletic community across the country.

“The ages of 14 to 24 are the most dangerous in life,” he said. “More people die in accidents in that age than in all other age groups. And the No. 1 cause is alcohol.”

According to one study, the average age for a boy today to consume their first full drink is 11.9 years and for girls it’s 13.1.

“And 40 percent of kids who start drinking before 15 will become alcoholics,” Underwood said.

At one point, he popped up the bloated, yellowed face of a 22-year-old man lying in a hospital bed.

“This is a face that should haunt you,” he said. “He started drinking at 13. And now he’s dead. He drank himself to death. What a waste.”

In a survey of 215 athletic directors, 59 percent reported having personally encountered intoxicated student-athletes. They considered alcohol use to be a bigger problem among their players than the use of other drugs.

New York, where Underwood’s program is mandatory for all coaches, athletes and parents, has tracked alcohol use by its athletes since the student enters the seventh grade. At that age, 14.1 percent reported alcohol consumption during the school year. By senior year, that total had grown to 58.5 percent.

AAI surveys in New York show that 80 percent of high school students have had at least one full drink and 52 percent have had at least one drink in the last 30 days. And 37 percent consumed five or more drinks in a row in the last 30 days.

“Seeing the numbers is surprising,” said Valley baseball coach Chad Kuhn. “The numbers were a little bigger than I expected. We know what’s going on. I know we as a community of coaches do not condone it. I think getting the word out is the most important thing. These are teenagers. Young minds and people that don’t see the deficits that can happen later in life.”

For the athletes in the audience, however, it was something they are going to remember.

“The one drunk night and 14 days (of lost training) that really surprised me,” Nutall said. “How one night can take away 14 days of your hard work. That really hit me.”

Monarchs freshman Daniel Romero said he wanted to attend because he hopes to have an athletic career.

“I wanted to learn more,” he said. “I wanted to see what I could learn about it to be a better athlete.”

It’s something the athletes believe they can discuss not only with their teammates, but with their other friends, as well.

“It’s something we’re going to talk about when we go back to school,” Nutall said. “Coming in here and seeing all the slides here, it really opened my eyes. It really did.”

Proven Scientific Facts:

*Alcohol increases the time for recovery of androgenic training hormones (up to 96 hours)

*Alcohol’s diuretic effect diminishes water soluble vitamins required for hormone catalytic/conversion actions

*Alcohol increases the release of cortisol (the stress hormone), which negates training effect

*Alcohol decreases the protein synthesis for muscle fiber repair

*Alcohol reduces the immune system capability

*Alcohol reduces performance potential by up to 11.4 percent

*Alcohol disturbs the REM sleep time, reducing the CNS restorative/recovery ability

*Alcohol impairs reaction time up to 12 hours after consumption

*Heavy episodic drinking results in projected loss of up to 14 days of training effect

*Alcohol affects heart, lungs and muscle performance

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