Melbourne, Nov 3 : Aussie football players indulge in the riskiest drinking outside the football season, reveals a study on drinking patterns of AFL (Australian Football League) players.
The study underlined the fact that the drinking habits of AFL players differ significantly from those of the general population.
This is the first study to put an entire sporting clan under the scanner, and as the researchers claim, the results suggest that there's a need to apply an entirely different approach to alcohol education for this group.
According to the figures, just 2 percent of AFL players drank at risky levels during the sporting season compared to 15 percent of the general male population.
However, the figure climbed up to 54 percent when the season ended - a period sometimes known as 'mad Monday'. Associate Professor Paul Dietze, an epidemiologist at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, said that footballers and the general population differed significantly when it came to drinking patterns.
"What it suggests is that the drinking among players needs to be approached a lot differently than drinking among the general community," ABC Online quoted Dietz as saying.
He claimed that alcohol education programs for AFL players, would reap the best results when they are run at the end of season
Also, the study revealed that alcohol promotions such as free drink cards also prompted risky alcohol consumption, and players who drank in public were also more likely to drink at risky levels.
Also, the study highlighted that married players or those who reported having outside interests, such as work or study commitments, were not much inclined towards risky drinking.
In fact, membership of certain clubs seemed to reduce the chances of risky drinking among players,
However, researchers found that membership of a players' leadership group did not reduce the risk of excessive drinking.
Professor Dietz says the Australian Football League deserves applause for showing leadership in relation to managing risky alcohol consumption by its players.
But, he said that AFL players should not be held accountable to a higher standard of behaviour when it came to alcohol consumption, because "these players are just normal people who happen to have an elite talent".
The study was published in the latest edition of the Medical Journal of Australia.