Katharine Merry, bronze medalist in the 2000 Sydney Olympic games, experimented with the dangers of binge drinking. The results over a two week period were shocking. This Olympian suffered skin problems, loss of appetite, felt weak and lethargic, gained two inches around her waist area, and developed flu-like symptoms for which she needed to take several prescribed medications.
Why did this athlete, who was in great shape, choose to harm her body? Miss Merry wanted to show young athletes how alcohol can affect and even jeopardize one’s athletic career. She now mentors promising young athletes and encourages them to lead healthy and disciplined lifestyles to reach their potential in the sport.
Athletes, in general, are often unaware of physical consequences drinking alcohol poses to them. Along with social consequences within school administration and athletic departments at the high school and college levels, alcohol additionally causes several symptoms such as:
- Decrease in Performance
- Poor Nutrition
- Problems with Social Situations
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Attention or Alertness issues
- Problems with Fat Storage
Alcohol can quickly dehydrate an individual and cause severe electrolyte imbalances. When dehydrated, an athlete is at higher risk of injuries such as cramps, muscle pulls, and muscle strains. On a more significant level, dehydration can lead to severe brain impairment and even death when elevating one’s body temperature in intense practices or workouts. Additionally, an athlete who binge drinks can experience a loss in muscle mass resulting in fatigue and a decrease in strength and performance.
Athletes should be aware that alcohol can also cause performance damage several days after consumption. Many experience impaired or delayed reaction time, a decrease in hand-eye coordination, and even impaired judgement. Additionally, performance is reduced and an increased risk of injury. Alcohol can also cause nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness for days after consumption.
Even though many athletes are told that alcohol inhibits peak performance, some still partake in drinking alcohol. More and more schools are enforcing athletic codes and policies for students who underage drink. In addition to schools creating alcohol and drug abuse policies, professional sporting clubs such as, NCAA, Olympic sports, NFL, NBA, and USOC, are beginning to acknowledge alcohol and drug use and abuse among athletes.
Athletes should be aware:
1. for your body’s best performance those 21 or older, drinking during an athletic season should be avoided
2. for those under the age of 21 drinking alcohol is illegal in the state of Wisconsin and has consequences in the community, school, and to one’s physical health
Drug Free Communities of Fond du Lac County and Healthy Fond du Lac County 2020 would like remind parents, students, and the community of the risks and consequences of consuming alcohol and the impact it has on athletic performance. With your help, alcohol use and abuse can be reduced and unforeseen injuries in athletics can be prevented.
Link to Katharine Merry article, How just two-weeks of binge drinking destroyed a female Olympic athlete’s body.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-499241/How-just-weeks-binge-drinking-destroyed-female-Olympic-athletes-body.html