Burning Question of The Day: Should High School Athletes Be Drug Tested?
My brother’s football coach is in the news lately, because he is requesting to do random drug tests on the players. Drug and alcohol use, particularly marijuana use, is completely rampant among the high school students and the town in general—I would know from experience. In fact, more than one of the players on the football team received citations for Minor In Possession and Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance (marijuana) over the summer, and ended up being suspended for the first few games of the season. To put things in context, growing up, I was one of two of my circle of 15-20 friends that didn’t receive an MIP—and my group of friends would NOT be considered “partiers”. It was not uncommon for many of my classmates and friends to actually smoke weed with their parents. More than one teacher at the high school was busted for supplying students with weed.
Anyway, the coach suspects that most of the team is drinking and smoking marijuana on a regular basis (he’s probably right), and this spurred his request to begin random drug testing. The coach has received a donation of a season’s worth of drug tests, so there would be no cost to the school. All but one player’s parents have signed consent for their children to be tested. The player whose parents did not consent would not be tested, and would not be penalized for not being tested.
The first occurrence of a positive test would result in the player’s parents being notified, and probably some hefty extra conditioning. If the player tests positive a second time, they would not be allowed to play again until they had completed a drug and alcohol treatment program.
This has created a BIG uproar in the hippie town that I lived in, and many of the citizens (who are not the parents of the team members) are screaming that the testing violates the students’ civil liberties, or would open the door for other liberties to be violated. They are concerned that the player whose parents won’t consent to him being drug tested really will be penalized, no matter what the coach says. They say that it’s unfair that only the football team has to submit to testing. The issue will go before the school board in the next few days to see whether or not they will allow the drug testing to occur.
Personally, I am typically pretty leery of policies that may violate civil liberties. However, in this instance, I am in complete support of the drug testing given the fact that the parents have consented to it. For me, that fact (coupled with the fact that there’s no cost to tax payers) makes it a non-issue. Further, I believe wholeheartedly that marijuana use is an epidemic in the town, and to keep ignoring the fact that it’s an issue does a disservice to every one of the children in the town. Yes, we could argue all day about whether or not it should really be illegal, but the fact of the matter is that it IS illegal at the time being, and if they disagree, they should lobby to change the law, not just break it. Lastly, extracurricular activities are a privilege, not a right. Often, a higher level of academic achievement is required to participate in extracurricular activities, and I don’t see any reason that asking players to agree to a higher level of drug and alcohol enforcement is any different.
But what are your thoughts?