CAMILLA JACKSON, Contributor
Becoming aware of an issue is, as I learned this year, only half the battle. At the end of January I had the privilege to attend the NCAA APPLE conference, which focused on improving student athlete wellness and substance abuse prevention. The conference served as a venue for student athletes, coaches, training staff, faculty and advisors from divisions I, II and III. The attendees ranged from large California schools with 1,200 student athletes to a small, all girls’ school from Massachusetts with an athletic program capped at 90. The student athletes’ demographics were diverse, and their athletic experience ranged from being recruited their junior year of high school to being a walk-on. My personal favorite was a young woman who attended the University of Ohio and was on the school’s pistol team (not an NCAA recognized sport, might I add). Nonetheless, each and every individual was there with the purpose of becoming more aware of health and wellness issues surrounding not only student athletes, but their entire campus community.
To many, statistics are just percentages and numbers that represent a population somewhere “out there.” After attending the conference, and especially listening to specialist Linda Hancock who emphasized that we are all unique genetic snowflakes and thus react and respond in different ways to substances, I realized that inaccurate information is all too often accepted because it seems right. However, there is a distinction between perception and reality. Having access to accurate statistics helps us shed light on the truth surrounding issues about alcohol, drugs, nutrition, sexual and mental health. For the purpose of summarizing ten plus speakers, this is what I want to convey to the Beloit student population:
1). After consuming alcohol, mental sharpness decreases for up to three days. Endurance, work rate and strength are affected for up to five days.
2). Be aware of the role of social media. When posting invitations for parties on Facebook, be aware of the information and incentives you write about for attending the party. There are many legal liabilities when supplying alcohol or other provisions. Your affiliation with the college means that your actions are a reflection of the institution, and you become their responsibility.
3). Men abuse drugs four times more than women.
4). Women attempt suicide more often than men, while men are four times more likely to commit suicide.
5). In the past six months it was believed that most student athletes had two to three sexual partners, the reality is that most had one or none.
Gossip, exaggerations or whatever it may be on a college campus, perpetuate unhealthy stereotypes. This is just a reminder to check your sources, your information, and look to better both your own and your peers’ health by familiarizing yourself with accurate statistics.
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