Game Day Alcohol Expectancies among College Students from a University in the Southeast
Glassman, Tavis, Miller, Jeff, Miller, E. Maureen, Wohlwend, Jennifer, Reindl, Diana, American Journal of Health Education
Background: The alcohol consumption associated with college sporting events depicts a public health challenge. Purpose: The aim of this investigation involved assessing the alcohol expectancies among college students associated with home football games and which of these expectancies was most predictive of high-risk drinking. Methods: Researchers employed a cross-sectional study design, collecting data via an electronic survey the Monday after the final home football game of the season from a group of randomly selected college students. Results: An exploratory factor analysis revealed four expectancies were associated with alcohol use on game day: Rowdy Fan, Fun, Social Confidence and Sexual Opportunity. The Rowdy Fan construct was the most predictive of alcohol use on game day; whereas, the Sexual Opportunity expectancy was not statistically significant. Discussion: The results from this study indicate college students are motivated to drink on game day to root for their team, have fun, and to enhance their social confidence. Translation to Health Education Practice: Alcohol expectancies are common; however, people drinking alcohol to enhance their rowdiness to cheer for their team constitutes a unique expectancy which public health and school officials must address. Health communication and media literacy campaigns may help remedy entrenched alcohol expectancies.
Alcohol misuse and abuse among college students presents a cadre of very serious health issues. National data indicate more than 1,800 college students ages 18-24 die annually from alcohol-related unintentional injuries. (1) In 2005, an estimated 599,000 college students experienced injuries due to their drinking, 696,000 were assaulted, and 97,000 were victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. (1) In addition, high-risk drinking, defined as five or more drinks for a male or four or more drinks for a female, on one occasion during the previous two weeks, contributes to poor academic performance, interrupts sleep and study time, results in damaged property, sexually transmitted diseases and fatal car crashes. (2) Population-based interventions implemented on college campuses to reduce high-risk drinking and related consequences have yielded little effect. (3) In fact, nationally the high-risk drinking rate increased from 41.7% in 1998 to 44.7% in 2005, a statistically significant proportional increase of seven percent. (1)
In the fall, the high-risk college student drinking rate may be partially attributable to the alcohol consumption associated with college football events, also known as game day. (4) Game day on college campuses represents a specific social occasion within the college environment which exacerbates alcohol consumption among college students, an already high-risk group. Many college students view game days as an opportunity to drink heavily, express support for their team, and participate in the overall social experience. (5) Researchers labeled this behavior Extreme Ritualistic Alcohol Consumption (ERAC) and defined it as consuming ten or more drinks for males and eight drinks or more for females on game day. (6) These sporting events occur multiple times throughout the fall semester and each football game provides opportunities for increased alcohol use including at parties, tailgating before, during, and after the game, and celebrating a win or mourning a loss. (7)
Research indicates sports fans engage in heavy alcohol consumption more than non-fans and are at increased risk for experiencing the negative consequences associated with excessive drinking. (8,9) While males drink more than females on game day, females experience more of the negative consequences than males. (10) Further, Merlo and colleagues (11) found that college football "home game" days were associated with the highest number of arrests as compared to arrests on non-game "control Saturdays" (away games) and holidays. …