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Binge Drinking and Sports Participation in College: Patterns Among Athletes and Former Athletes

This study draws on a nationally representative sample to examine the relationship between participation in organized sport and alcohol use. We build on prior studies by re-examining the relationship between participation in organized sport and binge drinking and how this varies by both race and gender. We expand upon previous research by analyzing the long-term effects of involvement in organized athletics among both current and former sport participants and how this compares to patterns of binge drinking among the general college student population. To do so, our analysis compares rates of binge drinking among current college athletes, former athletes, and college students who were never involved in interscholastic sport. We find that: (1) organized sports participation is associated with binge drinking; (2) that this relationship holds across racial and gendered lines; (3) that the effects of exposure extend beyond time of involvement. The paper concludes with a discussion of possible explanations for the relationship between binge drinking and athletics, and the long-lasting effect of participation in organized sport.