Most Valuable Players -- Using Social Norms to Target Athletes as a High-Risk Sub-Population

H. Wesley Perkins, David Diana, and David W. Craig

Hobart & William Smith Colleges


Nationwide survey data have revealed significantly higher rates of heavy drinking among intercollegiate athletes than among other undergraduates. This higher risk pattern, likewise, has been documented in recent data collected in multiple surveys at HWS. Nevertheless, athletes and the student body at large hold exaggerated perceptions of athlete drinking norms much like AOD norms in general are misperceived in student populations. This workshop will present model strategies designed to identify and reduce harmful misperceptions about student-athlete alcohol norms. This approach simultaneously includes the promotion of more accurate perceptions of positive social behaviors including participation in various forms of community service and academic involvement. Strategies presented will include: 1) a rapid and inexpensive protocol to anonymously survey an entire college sub-population using a web-based instrument, 2) print and electronic media communication strategies promoting positive norms about athletes for the entire campus, 3) print and electronic strategies to more directly reach the target student-athlete and athletic staff sub-populations, 4) student-athlete peer educators delivering targeted messages, and 5) the use of brief intervention techniques for first-time policy offenders to address misperceptions among student-athletes at particularly high risk. Preliminary survey results from the first year implementation of this U.S. Department of Education supported project will be presented (see