The relationship between alcohol consumption, academic success, and athletic identity in colligate student-athletes


  • Zoe Arnold South Dakota State University
  • Hung-Ling (Stella) Liu South Dakota State University



Upon entering college in the United States, students are exposed to alcohol and, relatedly, the potentially dangerous experiences and effects that come with consuming alcohol. This is especially true for collegiate student-athletes, who have been found to have the highest consumption rate among student groups on campus. The purpose of the study was to understand the relationship between how student-athletes at a focus university, a Division I member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, experience alcohol consumption, how their consumption affects their academic grade point average (GPA), and how athletic identity plays a role in their experiences. While the research focuses on this one university, the findings are congruent with similar studies which focused on other colleges and/or the American college experience as a whole. Due to the large number of student-athletes in collegiate athletics, understanding and examining the correlation between alcohol consumption and the effect it has on academic success can be beneficial for multiple entities within a college dynamic. Survey data was collected from current student-athletes at a mid-sized Division I college in the Midwestern region of the United States. From this data, chi-square analysis showed that female student-athletes had statistically higher GPA than males, and a substantial sum of overall participants binge-drank during their last drinking occasion, and on both game and non-game days. A majority of respondents identify more with being a full-time athlete than being a full-time student. Results provide validity to past research studies, and allow for understanding to why student-athletes are at a higher risk of binge drinking. Practical implications and limitations are noted. Suggestions for future research include a larger sample from a variety of different universities, and understanding motivations between specific sports for academic success and alcohol consumption.

Keywords: alcohol consumption, identity, gender, sport, culture, academics