If you’ve been following the trial of George Huguely V, the University of Virginia lacrosse star accused of the beating death of his girlfriend and fellow UVA lacrosse player Yeardley Love, you probably have read the testimony about how drunk he was and how much drinking was part of the campus scene.
The Baltimore Sun has a good piece addressing this issue, noting that Huguely “had been arrested twice for drinking-related infractions, one of them violent, in his early 20s. And he admits to consuming at least 15 drinks — and likely had more, witnesses said — the day he confronted Yeardley Love at her off-campus apartment in 2010, assaulting her so severely she later died, according to prosecutors.”
Many of you will maintain that drinking has always been common in college, but the research shows a rise in binge drinking and alcohol-related deaths of young people. According to alcohol surveys and government data, 1,700 college students die in alcohol-related accidents each year and 599,000 suffer injuries because of drinking. Alcohol is reported as a factor in 97,000 sexual assaults and date rapes.
Two passages in the well-done Baltimore Sun story are worth discussing. One is a quote from Mike Gimbel, who runs a substance abuse education program for athletes and Maryland students. The story says that Gimbel gave a presentation at Love’s former high school, the Notre Dame Preparatory School, after her death.
Here is Gimbel’s quote: “For the first time in my career, I’m advising parents not to send their kids off to college, because it’s nothing but a big party.”
Another thought-provoking passage in the story deals with drinking among student athletes:
Studies, including a 2001 examination by the Harvard School of Public Health, have shown that athletes tend to drink more than their non-athlete peers and to experience more negative effects. And among athletes, lacrosse players are among the biggest partiers, according to a National Collegiate Athletic Association report published this year looking at substance use among college athletes. The report was based on responses to the association’s 2009 survey of 20,474 student athletes in 23 championship sports.
The survey found that male and female lacrosse players are more likely than any other kind of athlete to take amphetamines like Adderall, which many at U. Va., including Love, were prescribed for attention deficit disorder. And roughly 95 percent of the country’s male lacrosse players drank, the study claimed. Among women players, 85 percent consumed alcohol.
Both Love and Huguely were lifelong lacrosse players, and they traveled among a tight-knit crew of other athletes, many of whom grew up together in the same Mid-Atlantic prep school circles.
From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog