Substance Policies on Varsity Teams

Susanna Williams, Staff Reporter

The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) regulates most things regarding athletics on Division I, II and III campuses. While the NCAA has very specific policies surrounding performance-enhancing drugs (such as stimulants, beta blockers, beta-2 agonists, diuretics, peptide hormones, anabolic agents and anti-estrogens) and illicit drugs (such as marijuana and cocaine), no such policy exists for alcohol. That policy is left to the discretion of individual teams and coaches. We talked to several senior athletes from a variety of teams to discuss their personal team policies, and how they feel these policies impact the team’s ability to succeed on and off the field/court.

1) What is your substance policy on your team?

Jo Jo Wiggins, Men’s Basketball: We have a 48 hour rule before games.

Brooke Randall, Volleyball: We have a 24/48 hour rule. No substances 24 hours before practice, 48 hours before a game.

Jonah Rodewald, Men’s Swimming: We are dry 48 hours before competition, and from the beginning of our winter training trip until the end of our season.

2) Is the policy decided by your coach or within the team?

Wiggins: This rule has been decided by us as players.  

Rodewald: Initially within the team, now put forth by our coach in a team discussion setting.

Codie Conching, Volleyball: We hold a preseason meetings where we talk about team rules and schedules. We decide then with coaches and the whole team involved.

3) Has your policy changed at all within the last couple of years? If so, how do you think this has impacted your season? (focus, are people committed to sticking to it, etc.)

Randall: The first year I was here we had a dry season, that was decided by the captains. My sophomore year we had a 24/48, this was decided by the captains as well. Junior year, coach made the executive decision to have a dry season. This year coach wanted the decision to be based more around a conversation and we all decided 24/48 together. To be honest, whether we have had a dry season or 24/48 rule, the outcomes of our seasons were not dependent on these rules. My first year we were bottom of the conference on dry season. My second and third years, regardless of policy, we finished in the middle. This year, we have not done as well as we had hoped – but I believe this is not dependent on our substance policy. We trust our teammates, and believe that everyone follows these policies for the good and benefits of the team. You commit to a team, you commit to the guiding principles and rules.

Meg Henry, Volleyball: Part of our decision this year was centered around the belief that our substance policy did not impact our season. We have had different policies throughout my four years, and it doesn’t seem like staying dry is linked to how we compete and our record. No matter what our policy has been people have been committed to sticking to it.

4) Do you think substance policies are necessary to the success of a team? Why or why not?

Wiggins: People on our team are committed to it because we all share a passion for the game and understand that we must sacrifice some things in order to succeed in our sport. I think substance policies are necessary because it would be hard for us to perform at our best after a night of drinking.

Henry: I do think some kind of substance policy is important to a team because there is an expectation to be at your best during practices and games which can’t happen if people are hungover. I think if a team agrees upon a rule then they hold each other accountable and it helps foster a culture of respect and discipline.

Rodewald: I believe that the success of a team, in the many areas it can be successful, is from a multitude of factors, drinking policy being one small portion. I think that drinking policies are the result of a well run program with invested and committed teammates who understand that alcohol can have a negative effect on athletic performance, and want to outline a team standard regarding how it will be treated in season. I think that they are not causal in the success of a team, but rather tend to be an aspect of teams who are committed to their sport.