Sex, drugs and the men of Whistler
UBC researchers explore Olympic off-course behaviour
By Todd Coyne, Vancouver SunFebruary 13, 2010
(Link to original article)
VANCOUVER - British Columbia's most prestigious university has put on some high-powered thinking caps to deal with top-of-mind issues during the Vancouver Winter Olympics — namely sex, drugs and dating.
While UBC students are on a two-week Olympic holiday, researchers at the school are asking whether major sporting events like the 2010 Winter Games are also a "moral holiday" for athletes and spectators alike.
Studying the prevalence of intoxicated sex and sexually transmitted infections at Whistler, UBC Nursing student and research director Jennifer Matthews concluded that the "party atmosphere" created around major sporting events and ski resorts like Whistler tend to increase risk-taking among young men in particular.
"Young, heterosexual men are a highly understudied population," said Matthews. "Most STI studies only look at heterosexual women and gay men."
Matthews's study indicates that intoxicated sex among young males at Whistler results from a convergence of drug and alcohol culture, a risk and pleasure seeking environment and the prevailing masculine ideal of what she calls the "Whistler guy."
Defining a moral holiday as someone taking leave from their normally responsible behaviour, Matthews said that despite the commendable efforts of Whistler health and staff housing authorities, the prevalence of young, transient people at sporting events and resort communities will always skew their STI transmission rates higher.
"The environment that an event like the Olympics creates," said Matthews, "sets up a number of risk factors where people don't always make the best decisions."
Matthews's research is based on 16 in-depth interviews with men aged 19 to 31 living in Whistler.