Purpose: To examine the association between participation in specific school-sponsored sports and out-of-school sports/physical activities and substance use.
Methods: Subjects consisted of 891 8th grade youth from three schools. Baseline data were collected using the Youth Alcohol & Drug Survey (2000) and following standardized protocols. Logistic regressions were conducted to identify associations between the independent variables of school-sponsored sports, and out-of-school sports/physical activities, and each of the four substance use dependent variables, while controlling for race. Additionally, logistic regressions were run separately for males and females to examine gender differences.
Results: Participation in any one of seven specific sports/physical activities was associated with increased substance use for one or both genders, whereas participation in any one of four other specific sports/physical activities was associated with decreased use for one or both genders. Those sports associated with increased use differed for males and females, as did those associated with decreased use. Females in school-sponsored dance/cheerleading/gymnastics were at decreased risk of alcohol use, whereas those in out-of-school dance/cheerleading/gymnastics, skateboarding or surfing were at increased risk for using at least one substance. Males in out-of-school swimming were at decreased risk of heavy alcohol use, whereas those in school-sponsored football, swimming, wrestling or out-of-school tennis were at increased risk for using at least one substance.
Conclusions: Educators cannot assume all sports/physical activities have a positive relationship with youth substance use. School-sponsored, male-dominated sports appeared to be associated with an increased substance use risk for males, whereas out-of-school, mixed-gender sports appeared to be for females.