NCAA 48-Hour Rule: Is 48 Hours Really Enough?

In collegiate athletics, student-athletes are expected to be held to a higher standard. They need to have decent grades to be eligible to play and sometimes have to participate in a certain amount of community service. The reason these students are to be more responsible for their actions is because they represent their respective university on a higher and more recognizable level. However, the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) does not have similar expectations of athletes.

The NCAA initiated a written “48-Hour Rule.” This rule states that in order for an athlete to be eligible to compete, they have to abstain from alcohol 48 hours before a competition and 24 hours prior to any team practice. Although this rule has been established, it is ultimately up to the university itself to decide if they want to follow the rule or if they want to ban drinking all together. Instead of leaving the option to the individual universities, the NCAA should take it upon themselves to provide a rule preventing alcohol consumption during any athletic season.

Research from The Washington Post reported that 80% of college students admit to drinking, while nearly half of that number admits to “binge” drinking. Virtually every college student experiences the effects of drinking, even if they have never touched a drop of alcohol. This proves that there are plenty of platforms for student-athletes to be able to party and obtain alcohol. The NCAA decided to send out their own survey, and the results were shocking. The results showed that 63% of male athletes admitted to having at least five or more drinks in one setting, and 41% of female athletes admitted to having four or more drinks in one setting. It is obvious that this 48-hour rule is not doing enough to keep student-athletes safe and playing at their optimum level.

Most varsity teams have at least six practices a week, and many sports have competitions on weekends. This means, according to the rule, that the only time these students could drink is on a Saturday night after a competition — when the body needs to recover the most. I believe, to be able to prevent student-athletes from placing themselves in a dangerous position, the NCAA should create a rule that all collegiate in season athletes should be required to abstain from alcohol completely regardless of one’s age.

Although it may be difficult to enforce such a rule, it would be a healthy step towards providing safety for those college athletes. During any sports’ season, an athlete’s body is placed under immense strain and should be treated properly to be able to maintain peak performance and prevent any injury or sickness. Since the body is extremely fatigued, it can be more susceptible to any virus, disease, injury, etc. Alcohol only makes it worse and prevents the body from healing the way in which it needs. This is why I think it is important to implement a “dry” season to college athletics as it will help to keep those athletes at their best physical health. I do not think that the current 48-hour rule does enough to keep athletes in safe environments and prevent them from harming their bodies.

I think it is in the NCAA’s and all universities best interest to initiate a more strict rule on the consumption of alcohol. Not only would this type of rule prevent athletes from putting their bodies under unnecessary stress, it can improve their team’s performance. In a study at Longville University in Farmville, Virginia, they researched the positive effects of a “dry” season on team performance. In that study, the majority of teams that decided to enforce a no alcohol rule ended their seasons with a positive or winning record. As well as a good season, this rule can provide a good image for their program and the school. If any program is in good standing with the law, the community is more likely to support them and they will likely have a higher attendance at their games. Full circle, the team is more successful and they could receive more money from their success and ticket sales.

The NCAA’s Sports Science Institute says they “hope to foster a healthy and productive experience for college athletes. In addition to performance-enhancing drugs, alcohol and other recreational drug use can impact the health and well-being of student-athletes. The Sports Science Institute encourages college athletes to be aware, ask questions, make safe choices and to stay healthy and drug free.” In their statement, they never say that they discourage consuming alcohol while being a student-athlete. This is something that the NCAA has to change.