Education

Giving student athletes and parents a free pass…

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The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting commentary in today’s issue concerning a New Jersey law that mandates random drug tests for student athletes. The tests are looking for steroids, a growing problem among all levels of athletes.

I think the Monitor is wrong on this issue and it seems to me that the authors have spent little time around high school sports and more specifically, high school sport athletes and parents. The Monitor writes that “By making random testing compulsory, New Jersey undermines the responsibilities of parents to bring up their kids and teach them right from wrong. It detracts from young people reasoning their way to a moral conclusion about steroid use – a thought process vital to growing up – by emphasizing an up-or-down test. And it takes a personal decision about one’s own body and a physical exam (either urine or blood, New Jersey hasn’t settled on a method yet) out of the family setting and hands it to the state.”

As a teacher myself, I know that the range of student athletes is a wide as the range of professional athletes. There are those that work hard to succeed but also there are those that buckle under the pressure of success and look for shortcuts. Sadly, there are instances where the parents are part of this pressure to succeed. I’m not sure how I get how taking the test out of the steroid equation means that parents will teach their student right from wrong or how mandating a test takes the parent of of that role.

Steroids and performance enhancing drugs are wrong for athletes at any level. I believe that is especially critical for student athletes.

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J N

5 Comments

  • I think this guy is overreaching and in so doing, making a poor argument.

    By making random testing compulsory, New Jersey undermines the responsibilities of parents to bring up their kids and teach them right from wrong. It detracts from young people reasoning their way to a moral conclusion about steroid use – a thought process vital to growing up – by emphasizing an up-or-down test.

    Is it just me, or is he arguing against rules in general here? It would be great if all kids would come to the conclusion that sterioid use isn’t very prudent, but that’s obviously not happening. Repercussions for bad behavior don’t disable a person’s ability to make good decisions, but they are a useful stand-in when someone isn’t able to on their own (ie I don’t want to drink underage because I don’t want to get caught!).

    Then he goes on to say that being more specific to kids about the dangers of steroids instead of testing for them, but there’s no reason we can’t have both.

    I get the feeling that the author isn’t really very concerned about steroid use amongst kids, and that the yuckiness of compulsory testing is more offensive to him than the idea of a few kids getting away with it.

  • I have to disagree with Jason on this one. I think that the NJ policy is deeply flawed, not because it doesn’t force students to grow up, but because it teaches them that governments have the right to intrude into their lives without suspicion. There is no better way to indoctrinate people into believing that their rights are subject to the whim of the government than taking those rights away when they are young.

    If you accept the rationale that schools can search students for steroids, wouldn’t it follow that schools can search teachers for drug use as well? Certainly one can make a compelling argument that teacher drug use and abuse is dangerous as well.

  • Hi Don,

    I certainly see where you are coming from, but how, then, do we teach that steroids are wrong? I believe we have done a decent job educating students that these drugs are wrong so what else to we do to enforce these rules? What constitutes reasonable suspicion?

  • I think it has to be the same standard that we use for adults, which, admittedly, makes steroids cases very difficult.

    I don’t think we’ve done a very good job educating athletes about the dangers of drugs, nor have we done a good job teaching students about other illicit drugs. We are locked in the DARE model, which just doesn’t work.

  • Wasn’t there a study done a while ago that showed that DARE actually increases drug use? Anyway, I am a firm believer in educating first, punishing second.
    And we can’t forget Pogie’s original point: when you start rights infringements with kids, they don’t know any better. I bet if you asked kids my age if random drug testing was unconstitutional, half of them would say no. It’s a very scary reality.

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