Abstract: Engagement in Risky Behaviors By College Athletes (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

546P Engagement in Risky Behaviors By College Athletes

Saturday, January 19, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Lorin Mordecai, MSW, PhD Candidate, University of Connecticut, Hartford, CT
Background and Purpose: Because sport creates a culture in which dominance is rewarded, male athletes are subject to proving their masculinity both on and off the court. In applying multidimensional masculinities theory theory, this study focuses on the ways in which type of sport participation, sex, and jock identification influence engagement in risky behaviors. More specifically, it attempts to understand the potential motivations behind substance use, illicit substance use, delinquency, and risky sexual activity. To fulfill the Grand Challenges in Social Work to end gender-based violence, family, and community violence, social workers are essential in developing interventions to encourage healthy masculinity among athletes.

Methods: This study uses a secondary data set from the Athletic Involvement Study of Students in a Northeastern University in the United States. Through a cross sectional survey design, there were 621 athletes who completed an anonymous questionnaire.  Regression analyses were performed to determine whether participation in contact sport or noncontact sport influenced engagement in substance use, delinquency, and risky sexual activity among athletes in college and community sports. The moderating effect of sex, jock identity, and jock perception on outcome variables were also assessed.

Results: Contact sport and jock identity explained 17% of the variance on substance use (R2 = 0.017, F(2, 586) = 4.962, p<.05). The interaction accounted for a significant portion of substance use (ΔR2 = .007, ΔF(1, 585) = 3.951, p = .047, b = 3.543, t(585) = 1.988, p<.05). Although the interaction was significant, the variance decreased. Contact sport and jock identity was not significant on engagement in illicit substance use (R2 = 0.001, F(2, 610) = 1.349). However, the interaction between contact sport and jock identity reached significance (ΔR2 = .007, ΔF(1, 609) = 4.101, p = .043, b = 1.315, t(609) = 2.025, p<.05). Contact sport and jock perception explained 53% of the variance for delinquency (R2 = 0.053, F(2, 616) = 17.305, p<.001). The moderating effect of contact sport and jock perception approached significance (ΔR2 = .004, ΔF(1, 615) = 2.866, p = .091, b = 0.501, t(615) = 1.693, p<.10).

Conclusions and Implications: Preliminary analyses demonstrate that the type of sport, sex, and jock identification are key incentives to engagement in risky behaviors. Males who participated in both contact and noncontact sport were more likely to engage in risky behaviors than females. Deviance by male athletes across each sport indicates that hegemonic masculinity is pervasive within the overall sports culture. Moreover, the impact for engagement in substance use, illicit substance use, and delinquency was greater for athletes in contact sport and identified as a jock than athletes who did not. It is important for social workers to design interventions to educate athletes on healthy masculinity. By redefining their power, they could challenge traditional masculinity in which heterosexuality and dominance are rewarded. Prevention will reduce motivations to conform to masculine norms and engage in risky behaviors while also influencing a positive shift in the sports culture.