How Alcohol Can Sabotage Your Athletic Dreams

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"Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."-John Wooden, Legendary UCLA men's basketball coach, winner of 665 games and 10 NCAA titles in 27 seasons with the Bruins

The choices you make on and off the field clearly reveal your character. Coaches use their analysis of the person they see to determine whether a player is worth having on their team. According to Sigi Schmid, former UCLA men's soccer coach and current head coach of the Seattle Sounders, "[Good] character is the hardest thing to find."

Larry Kehres, head football coach of D-III powerhouse Mount Union, relies on character to build a strong, smooth-working team. "Possessing good character helps you make a good decision, avoid a problem [or] sometimes avoid a penalty [on the field]. If a team can keep the number of social problems and academic issues to a small number, then the team and coaching staff [can] concentrate on preparation for games."

Despite its critical importance, making good choices away from your sport is often difficult. Over
the course of summer break, you'll face situations with possible negative outcomes that coaches consider instant deal breakers. Among them, partaking in underage drinking. Read below to fully understand how alcohol can sabotage your athletic dreams.

You Will Get Caught, and You Will Pay

An estimated 500,000 arrests are made in the U.S. each year for liquor law violations. While you might feel like you're going to get away with it, odds are you'll get caught.

Besides disappointed parents, getting tagged with underage consumption results in a laundry list of debilitating consequences. An overwhelming majority of high school teams have codes of conduct stating that underage drinkers will immediately be kicked off the team. In addition, college coaches routinely yank scholarships from recruits who are caught boozing.

How far can your budding athletic career go with no current or future team wanting you as a member? Look on the bright side; without sports, you'll have plenty of time for court dates, multiple jobs to pay your legal fees, and the 400 hours of community service you'll earn as a sentence.

You Could Die

Alcohol is a leading cause of death among youth, particularly teenagers. According to the Marin Institute, an alcohol industry watchdog, three teens are killed each day when they drink and drive, and at least six more die daily from other alcohol-related causes. Enough said.

Serious Athletes Don't Drink

Aside from the unwanted accumulation of fat, which slows you down and reduces your fitness level, alcohol destroys your athleticism in other ways.

Alcohol negatively affects your central nervous system (CNS), which plays a major role in strength gains. If the CNS isn't functioning at optimal levels, maximum strength can't be reached. Also, even a small amount of booze can decrease the secretion of human growth hormone—a key element in muscle growth and repair, which tells your body to build muscles bigger and stronger—by as much as 70 percent during sleep. In short, a few drinks can literally undo all of the hard work you put in during workouts and practice.

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