Cardiff Metropolitan University
A case study of alcohol use among male univer_David Brown.pdf (652.39 kB)

A case study of alcohol use among male university rugby players

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posted on 2023-03-28, 16:23 authored by Marc Harris, Carwyn Jones, David BrownDavid Brown

 In the UK, research has established that student athletes consume greater quantities of alcohol than their non-athlete peers. The published literature suggests the drinking culture in sport is a social phenomenon. At present, however, the evidence does not tell us what the precise mechanisms involved in the production and reproduction of the drinking culture are. To gain a deeper understanding of these mechanisms a case study methodology was used, where a researcher was heavily immersed within a male university rugby environment for a season. Data sources included observation, field-note taking, documentation, conversational interviews, and formal semi-structured interviews. These athletes faced a multitude of pressures encouraging them to drink, and often. Firstly, alcohol use was embedded within athletes’ weekly routine. Over time, drinking became a taken-for-granted ritual of sport. Secondly, specific roles and responsibilities, punishments, and events, were used to ensure athletes complied with the drinking ethos. Thirdly, athletes used alcohol to gain status and reputation. This, however, led to a culture where no behaviours were off limits and led to potentially harmful consequences. Fourthly, institutional factors (such as alcohol price, availability and sponsorship) may have normalised and legitimised a heavy drinking culture. There is a need to confront and challenge the alcohol ethos at this and other similar institutions with a pervasive drinking culture to reduce the potential harm to individual athletes. 


Published in

Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health


Taylor & Francis


  • VoR (Version of Record)


Harris, M., Jones, C., & Brown, D. (2023). A case study of alcohol use among male university rugby players. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 1-15.

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

Marc Harris Carwyn Jones David Brown

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Philosophy and Ethics in Sport
  • Qualitative Research Methods and Social Theory

Copyright Holder

  • © The Authors


  • en

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