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Q. What can LOA do for our school and community?

A. The "just do it" generation has been marketed to and it has indeed worked. Today's athlete has assumed the adventurer/risk takers stance on how far to push their luck. Athletes have always portrayed the assumption of risk as behavior as usual. The recent onset of increases in pack mentality has certainly increased the problems and behaviors of concern we presently see. Even non-risk takers boldly portray themselves as risk takers to fulfill a "wan-a-be" identity. Social drug use is now normative. It is "Just what they do..." This puts today's athletes at incredible risk for many negative behaviors of concern.

Q. What is the big deal? Kids party?

A. It begins at onset in 7th grade with 14.1% reporting alcohol consumption during the school year. This use progresses to 58.5% by 12th grade. It is understandably of concern that the use is associated with increasing amounts throughout high school, although the number of occasions per month remains relatively constant at five drinking episodes per month, which leads us to believe that it is for most once per week on the weekend. Nonetheless, this activity is against the law and dangerous, as alcohol has been linked to nearly all high risk behaviors and health crises. When we combine this alcohol use with high risk behaviors normally experienced by youth, we greatly magnify the propensity for disaster and watch our young adolescents enter the ten most dangerous years of life, ages 14-24.

Q. Who does it target?

A. High School Administrators, Athletes, Parents/Guardians, Coaches and Community Stakeholders.

Q. Why Athletes?

A. Prevention and intervention efforts focus on target populations. Often they look for populations with something in common. Athletes are the largest target population that exists in any community or any school. 40-90% of students in most U.S. schools are involved in at least one sport. More than any other group of adolescents, we have compelling reasons for athletes not to drink, health and performance. Alcohol, a metabolic poison has only negative effects on all physiological parameters. This can be our initial rationale for non-use. High school sports do matter! High school athletics are an integral part of many communities throughout the United States. The local sports teams are the focal point of community life: it's a source of pride, a spot for social gathering, and where initial perception of a community begins; because of this performance matters; the performance of the athletes as well as their behavior. The choice by student-athletes to use drugs greatly affects both of these domains. The athletes are usually the leaders in the school and the way the athletes go the school goes.

Q. What is the prevention basis to LOA?

A. The Prevention Basis to Athlete Programs and Team Effectiveness
  • Programs to prevent athlete substance abuse inherently rests on certain assumptions about why athletes would use alcohol and other drugs. Strategies for prevention, in turn, are based on these assumptions.
  • To date, most prevention efforts have focused on changing the traits and behaviors of individuals, with heavy emphasis on their personalities, their backgrounds, or their ability to respond to their environment. Thus, some educational programs teach individuals about the dangers of substance use in order to promote fear of those dangers.
  • Others teach them skills for dealing with inter- and intra-personal social influences (such as stress and peer pressure).
  • Still others emphasize the improvement of personal qualities, such as self-esteem, that help people function in a complex world. These education efforts are based on theories that locate the causes of substance abuse primarily within the individual.
  • Even in cases where the role of the social environment is given prominence, the responsibility for action is placed on the individual.
  • If we hope to change a particular behavior (e.g., excessive use of alcohol), we must change the social context-the institution or group-that shapes the behavior. In other words, we must address the effects of social influence, within the team on the members of that team. (HANSEN) Adapted UNDERWOOD

Q. What is the emphasis of the program?

Phase #1

Pre-Season Meetings for Entry Level Athletes and Parents

Phase one employs a strategy for school districts to establish mandatory seasonal meetings to discuss conditions for involvement, expectations, philosophy and also to address the issues of chemical health and social drug use by athletes. A clear perspective of the privilege and personal and collective responsibility required to be afforded the opportunity to be an athlete. This program allows you to impact the majority of your entire student body and most importantly the parents. Athletics is the largest target population that exists in any school. Drug data and research is shared with all stakeholders

Phase #2

Athletic Codes of Conduct Conditions for Involvement

The #1 issue reported by high school Athletic Directors is the problem of enforcing Codes of Conduct. This program helps schools to understand what a code is for, what it can impact and how to rewrite them for today's athlete and the dilemmas they face. This program includes strategies for controlling adult fan/stakeholder behaviors of concern, parental issues, and the seven non-negotiable conditions for involvement to partake in high school sports. It also addresses the problem of modern day codes, which are reactive punishment based documents. Codes are re-written as proactive character based documents, taking us to a valuable paradigm shift, supporting our young athletes by telling them what we want them to do and our rationale for why, rather than telling them what we don't want and what we will do to them, if they fail to follow the rules.

Phase #3

Coaching Effectiveness Training for Chemical Health Issues

Phase 3 focuses on training of all coaches at all levels to understand and confront chemical health issues for today's student athlete. Training includes the use of the document "Greatest Threat" which helps a coach impact his/her team with valuable lessons against drug use and affords any coach a perspective of the present day problem and how they can impact it.

Phase #4

Developing Leadership to Confront Behaviors of Concern

This workshop is designed to identify, evaluate and develop hand-picked student-athlete leaders. Once chosen, the primary focus is to teach the individual what it means to be a leader and how to handle the responsibility that comes with a position of authority, influence, and importance. We teach the leaders how to confront their peers with behaviors of concern and to take matters that merit immediate action or continual issues to an adult authority. This workshop gives the coach and administrator a conduit to behaviors in the group. Individual and team success depends on good leadership. The first school to use this program had 27 athletes turned in for chemical health violations in the first year, for failure to follow the code of conduct.

Phase 5

Stakeholder Unity

The fifth and final phase in Life of an Athlete is to ensure that all members of the community take stake in eliminating drug and alcohol use among youth. Only by coordinating our efforts and taking a "many messengers with the same message" approach can we ensure that all individuals receive that message. This workshop allows a school district to take a comprehensive look at all aspects of their existing programs and determine priorities for the future. Year five allows all stakeholders to share their views of the entire athletic program. This process gives any school district a valuable perspective of establishing priorities, strengths and limitations for the future directions of the programs. An evaluative process is utilized to garner valuable information on student athlete chemical health issues within your athletic program. The information gained is incredible.

Q. Besides better athletes and winning teams what else can LOA do for our youth?

A. The following are some of the additional benefits for student-athletes who choose not to drink alcohol:
  • Academic or athletic performance will not be hampered;
  • The risk of breaking school rules or the law is greatly reduced;
  • Serious and life threatening problems related to being alcohol impaired such as drunk driving and sexual decision-making, injury, arrest, death are eliminated or reduced;
  • There is reduced risk of becoming addicted to alcohol; and,
  • The ability to develop appropriate life skills such as stress management, problem solving, conflict resolution, interacting with others, and goal setting is enhanced.
  • Young people can learn what it means to join a social order and be held to agreed upon standards for the group.

Q. What domains, protective factors and risk factors does LOA affect?

A. The Life of an Athlete Protective Factors:

Individual Domain:

  • Improved knowledge and understanding of athlete lifestyle, training effect and goal and social cohesion.
  • Accurate knowledge of the effect of social drug use and performance.
  • Improved perception of personal achievement and self efficacy, through greater normative understanding and personal and collective responsibility.

School Domain:

  • Team Vigilance
  • Individual responsibility
  • Collective responsibility
  • Team leadership
  • Coaching Vigilance
  • Parent Vigilance
  • Stakeholder Knowledge Understanding Agreement
  • Fan responsibility
  • Universal Code enforcement

Community Domain:

  • Debunk any perceptions that use is acceptable
  • Get community involved in after contest activities
  • Create community tone of healthy athletes with character
  • Community wide support of Code

Risk Factors:

Individual Domain:

  • Personal vulnerability to use drugs

School Domain:

  • Drug use norms

Community Domain:

  • Availability of drugs to athletes
  • Enforcement of all laws pertaining to underage use