Sports and alcohol

Sports aren’t just about performing well on the pitch, on horseback, or in the swimming pool. It's about being part of a team, a group, and about having a captain or team leader. Most people would agree that sports and alcohol are a bad combination. Sports are a good forum for talking to young people about alcohol since over half of all teenagers are regularly involved in sport through a club or association.

A lot of teenagers drink to fit in

It’s very common in your teens to be really curious about all the things you haven’t tried. Plus you want to have fun and to fit in. So if your teammates have a beer in the sauna, you might worry that you’ll be seen as boring if you don’t join in. For many teenagers, it’s that beer that is their first contact with alcohol. But alcohol and sports don’t belong together, neither for adults or for children. Talk to your teenager and help them come up with reasons that make it easier for them to say “no”. If the team or club has a permissive attitude towards alcohol, it’s a good idea for you, as a parent, to raise the subject with the leaders or with the parents of the other teenagers on the team.

The first time I got drunk was at a training camp in Germany.

Jacob, aged 15, Gothenburg

Alcohol has many negative effects

The vast majority of young people know that alcohol affects the body, but far fewer of them are aware of the effects of alcohol on sporting performances. Drinking substantially harms your performance – not just when you’re drunk, but the next day too – alcohol also prevents your body from building muscle and from recovering as easily. Playing badly because you’re hung over means letting your teammates down.

It’s easier to say “no” as a team

Two thirds of young people agree that teams and sports clubs should talk more about the risks associated with drinking alcohol in conjunction with sport. As a parent, you can ask your child’s team leaders to talk to the team about alcohol and drinking. Ideally, the club should have a unified stance on what is and isn’t allowed and should write these rules down in the form of a policy. Over half of all young people say that it would be considerably easier to say “no” to alcohol if there was a shared agreement not to drink.

You're not allowed to smoke or drink in my club. If you do, they contact your parents and you might get kicked off the team.

Nimo, aged 16, Gothenburg

Talk and discuss

Formulating a policy on paper is one thing, but theory needs to be put into practice. Keep the conversation between the team leaders and teenagers alive: what do you do if you see a teammate drinking and how might the group suffer as a result of drinking? Some team leaders find it easy to talk about this sort of thing with young people, but some have no idea how to approach the subject. Which is why it’s good if you, as a parent, can help out.

More to read about the same topic

The teenage years

The teenage years are a very special time in your child’s life. Teenagers are navigating the frontier lands between childhood and adulthood and there are a lot of new things to handle: school, friends, being allowed to stay out late, sex, parties and – not least – alcohol.

Useful contacts and more info

It can sometimes be good to talk to someone who knows a bit more about teenagers and alcohol, or about anything else, for that matter.

If you want to do more

There’s a lot you can do to support and be there for teenagers. Maybe you can take part in night-time patrols, or make it easier for them to say “no”, or help promote a smarter approach to alcohol in some other way.

Other important topics to read about

Teenagers and alcohol

There are many considerations that can easily arise when your child becomes a teenager. But first and foremost: how do young people think about drinking themselves? And why is it more dangerous to drink alcohol in adolescence than as an adult?

Take responsibility

Maybe you sometimes feel pretty helpless as a parent. But there’s a lot you can do. As always showing that you care, that you’re there and that you are happy to listen. And often it’s important to be clear about what you expect of your teenager.

If parents are not around

Festivals, home parties and trips abroad are examples of situations where adults are rarely present. There are some pitfalls that you, as a parent, should be aware of and that you can teach your teenager how to handle.

Yes or no?

The clearer you communicate your expectations, the easier it is for your teenager to take a stand or do what you say. Also, think about what sort of message and values you’re conveying to your child.

Teenager’s drinking habits

Not only is it illegal to buy alcohol for young people, but most adults think that alcohol is something teenagers should be avoiding. So where are teenagers getting their alcohol? How much do they drink? And what sort of problems do young people experience in connection to alcohol?

Back to The Teenage Phrasebook home page