College Athletes, Strain, and Substance Use




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The world of college athletics has been inundated with widely publicized instances of violent criminal behaviors by student athletes in recent years, and media reports on more minor deviant behaviors, including drug and alcohol use and abuse, have also highlighted the potential for delinquency in a relatively understudied population in criminological research. The current study explores potential factors that may influence deviance among college athletes by employing General Strain Theory as a theoretical framework. It is proposed that strain from athletics participation, lack of athletic autonomy, and a poor relationship with coaches will be significantly related to depression and substance use outcomes among college athletes. Utilizing a sample of college athletes from a large, public university in the Northeastern region of the United States, this study seeks to fill the gap in the literature on factors that impact deviant behaviors among college athletes. Findings from the study indicate that these proposed strains are only applicable in certain circumstances with specific substance use behaviors, and that independent variables of gender, year in school, career goals, monetary goals, and sport type are also important factors to examine to gain a better understanding of depression and substance use outcomes for college athletes. Based on the findings, it is suggested that future research should focus on gaining a more comprehensive, diverse sample of student athletes to survey, and that more measures of strain and deviant behavior outcomes are included in such surveys to gain a better understanding of deviant behaviors among college athletes.



Strain theory (Chemistry), College athletes -- Substance use, Substance abuse, Sports in popular culture


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