More than half GAA players go on binges regularly
MORE than half of GAA players admit to binge drinking at least once a week -- confirming their "work hard, play hard" image, a new study revealed yesterday.
One-third revealed that they consumed more than the recommended limit of 21 drinks a week and 90pc described themselves as current drinkers.
The findings were revealed in research led by Professor Shane Allwright from Trinity College, who looked at GAA clubs in two counties, interviewing nearly 1,000 players.
It is the largest study ever undertaken on alcohol use among sportspeople in Ireland and confirmed their rate of binge drinking was higher than the national average for other men of their age.
The average age of those involved in the research was 24. While they drank more, they smoked less than their peers, with just 8pc saying they regularly lit up.
"Sporting organisations and clubs are key settings for promoting health and well-being," said the study published in BioMed Central Research Notes.
"However, international research has shown that those involved in sport may be more likely to engage in regular binge drinking than the rest of the population."
The findings showed: l Slightly more than half of the drinkers (54.3pc) reported having six or more standard drinks in a row at least once a week (regular binge drinking). l Almost all (87.6pc) of the 864 players surveyed reported experiencing at least one harmful effect due to their drinking within the last 12 months. l Regular binge drinking was more common among players who said they were under 18 when they had their first drink. l Regular binge drinking was significantly associated with increased likelihood of alcohol-related harms -- for example being in a fight or alcohol harming their work or studies.
Prof Allwright complimented the GAA's taskforce on alcohol and said: "The GAA are to be commended for their pro-active approach to the issue of alcohol misuse. They are willing to use the study to evaluate the size of the problem and are trying to address the issues raised."
Dr Nazih Eldin, head of health promotion for HSE Dublin North East, added that the GAA's taskforce helped reach the players, coaches and followers of the game. One of the researchers pointed out that "while these figures may look bad, players of other team sports such as rugby, soccer or hockey, may be similar or worse but we do not yet have this information for other sports".
A GAA spokesman was unavailable for comment.