Do athletes engage in more deviance than non-athletes? In the study of athletes and drugs, one major topic that was discussed was the use of drugs by athletes at all levels. With much controversy dealing with the issue of drug testing in high school, college and professional sports, many people are debating whether or not the use of drugs is a problem in the athletic system.
With the problems of drugs appearing in the world of sports, many parents believe that if they place their children into a sport or any other extracurricular activity at an early age they will be spared from the world of drug use and maintain better grades in the long- run. Little do they know that student athletes do get better grades, but are also the students who have a greater chance to use alcohol and drugs. ?It has been proven that alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana are the leading choice among youths and student athletes in America today? (journal of alcohol and drugs education pg. 49). Due to the fact that the drugs mentioned above are probably the most common and easiest to get a hold of, they are also usually the ones that kids try first.
Alcohol, despite the increase in education and prevention efforts, remains the drug most widely used by high school students. Peer pressure also plays a large role in the amount of abuse that student do to their bodies. Many athletes try to duplicate what they see on the movies. For example in 1995 a movie The Program came out. It was about a football player who everybody loved. He partied drank and still played great when it was time too. The controversy that the movie faced was with a scene in the movie. It was when the main character (quarterback) when out and laid in the middle of the streets to prove that he could handle being under pressure. The first weekend the movie was out a high school student athlete wanted to prove to his mates that he can go out drinking, and still handle the pressure of laying in the middle of a busy street. Well that did not go to well. The student was killed and the movie was pulled out of the theaters and scene was edit out.
A survey taken in 1992, discovered that a ?51% of high school seniors claimed that they had consumed an alcohol beverage in the last month?(Albrecht, R.R., Anderson, W.A., McGrew, C.A., McKeag, D.B., & Hough, D.O. 1992). A study taken by the same people but among high school athletes in 1988 ?showed that 83% of high school athletes have tried alcohol at least once in their lives?. While a 55% of them admitted to consuming alcohol on regular bases.
With the pressure on young athletes by coaches and parents, many athletes in almost every university, high school and junior high feel that they must excel and be the best. For athletes, success in sports can mean financial scholarships, money towards college, jobs in advertising, and for a few lucky people a job as a professional athlete. To achieve these high statuses and dreams many students turn to the use of performance enhancing drugs, drugs that increase the athletic performance.
Athletes are more likely to take drugs that enhance themselves physically and psychologically than those who do not participate in sports. Many of the drugs that athletes choose to use are stimulants such as amphetamines and many other drugs with anabolic effects. Some examples of the substances and their effects are: Amino acids, which stimulate natural production of growth hormones, amphetamines and cocaine which increase strength, alertness, and endurance, caffeine which reduces fatigue and many more.
Many students get started using these drugs with suggestions from coaches and even with the suggestion from a fellow team member. They feel that with this extra boost of drugs in their system, their energy and sports level will improve their game. With the exception of major pain medications, student athletes report obtaining performance-enhancing drugs primarily from sources outside athletic programs, for example from friends, relatives, dealers, or even fans. ?Athletes who admitted using anabolic steroids within the past year indicated that they received them from athletic trainers at their own schools or places of work from people who they trust? (Albrecht, 9).
Much possible reasons for college athletes to take socially used drugs is to make them feel better, for social use, and to help deal with college stress both in the fields of academics and athletics. Although the drug abuse in Division I schools has decreased from an 87% to a 79% since 1989, there is still a large room for improvement. In the other hand an increase appeared to take place in both Division II and Division III. Division III athletes reported the highest percentage of alcohol and marijuana use (compared to division I and II. Figures were not found). They also reported the highest amount of cocaine use. Division II athletes reported a higher percentage of cocaine and crack use. One main reason for the inconsistency in the figures varying from Divisions could have to do with the fact that a stricter drug testing policy is enforced for those who play Division I. And another reason could be that these athletes might have more to loose then a Division II and Division III athlete.
If college student athlete was to fail their drug test, punishment can be very severe. Although sports are the same at every school, the punishment varies from class to class. In Division III and II athletics, athletes are not tested unless they have the opportunity to play in national championships or make the regional. Division I athletes are tested periodically with random testing thrown in occasionally whether in game season or not. Also Division I athletes could have more to loose than a Division III athlete. Division III athletes are not given the chance to receive athletic funds or scholarships. Without having the chance to receive athletic scholarships students don?t have the risk of being dismissed from school for not participating in their sport. In the case of Division I athletes where it becomes more like a job, the students must maintain a certain grade point average, remain physically healthy and attend practices without excuses. If these following guides are not followed students scholarship could be taken away and dismissal from the sport or even the school may take place.
There?s a belief that the use of illegal drugs and performance-enhancing drugs, and abuse of alcohol constitute a threat to the integrity of intercollegiate athletics. It also creates a danger to the health and the careers of the student-athlete. As soon as a student athlete joins and decides to participate in an inter-collegiate team, the war begins for the coaches and their staff to keep their players on the right track and not let them get caught up in the state of mind that every athlete is more likely to engage in the drug abuse than non-athletes. And also that drugs are not the answer to a lot of their questions. To prevent the problem a lot of universities around the world have adopted programs to educate their student-athletes to the personal risks and dangers of drug use and abuse. Another main focus of these programs is to try to prevent the involvement before it becomes a problem. And if a problem does occur, try to provide treatment, and rehabilitation. Therefore they can detect the problem at an early stage. Although the odds are against the probability of making a drug free inter-collegiate program, it?s a good attempt to try to minimize the use or abuse of drugs by any student-athlete.
Some athletes are more prone to abuse steroids than are others. It?s an obvious fact that football players have the highest rate of steroid abuse, because of the fact that their game has more to do with strength use than others. The higher the level of competition is the more chance there is to find an athlete abusing drugs. The effect of steroids might be good in the beginning, but the lasting effects can be crucial to ones own image. Now that steroid use has been prohibited by almost all-legitimate sporting organization, urine testing just prior to the athletic event has become commonplace. Although many athletes attempt to avoid steroid detection, it?s usually not worth it in the end.
The use of drug tests to test students for drug and alcohol use is a new technique used by schools today. ?After undertaking previous prevention efforts that proved ineffective in stopping the increase of drug use, the policy of random drug testing was adopted, along with very detailed procedures to ensure the accuracy of the testing, while minimizing it?s relative intrusiveness (www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/ACTGUID/drugath.html). Students in drug testing facilities must identify any prescription medication that they are talking at the time.
A procedure widely used today is that of random drug testing. This procedure consists of a random selection of students chosen to be tested at different times, making sure that no drugs come up in their system. Many times students are told the night before a testing to make sure that there is not enough time for students to make arrangements for a drug cover-up or even a small chance of having your system flushed of all inappropriate materials in your body. If a student does not show up for their individual test then they are declared a failure and will have to face the consequences of suspension or even dismissal from the sport.
Gender difference in drug testing plays a small role in how students and athletes are tested for drug abuse. Both male and female students enter the testing room with a monitor of the same sex. The observer stands close enough to the student to listen for normal sounds of urination. Each male student remains fully clothed at all times while the testing is taking place. They produce the urine sample while a monitor stands near by to make sure that the student does not tamper with the sample. A female student follows the same steps, but are allowed to go into an enclosed facility. Monitors are not allowed in the room so they do not get a direct observation of the procedure-taking place. The identity of the student is not taken into consideration as the school determines what drug the student might be tested for.
When the tests are finished and sent to the laboratories, scientist check for the following drugs: cocaine, amphetamines, and marijuana. Scientist now and days can search for LSD and other drugs by the request of the school or the NCAA. ?The laboratory has a 99.94% rate of accuracy?(www.ed.gov/ofices/DESE/ACTGUID/drugath.html). As the results are determined, the laboratory is responsible to mail the information to the NCAA, and the athletic directors. And they are the only ones subjected to this information.
For an athlete to be successful, a strong commitment to high levels of physical and mental conditioning is required. There?s nothing that can deter an athlete from reaching their goals more than the abuse of drugs and alcohol. Athletes need to realize that they have responsibility to society, especially as role models; and that fair play is as essential to sports as winning or losing. Athletes themselves are the key to solving the problem. Athletes at every level are looked up to by our nations as role models to kids at all ages. Go to any stadium across the nation tonight and look at the thousands of young people hanging on their seats, wearing the jerseys of their favorite players, and cheering on every good play. And, it isn’t just the pro that kids look up to. Younger children idolize their local high school athletes, and they pay careful attention to what these older children do in there off the field hours. College athletes, young people a lot of time in their teens, play before national network audiences of millions. Our young people look up to these student athletes as much as they do the pros. When one of these athletes turns up using drugs, young people get the message that drugs are excepted, the right thing to do, or even worse, cool. Sometimes the mistake is made in believing that athletes are immune from the pressures and tensions that draw individuals to substance abuse. Nothing could be further from the truth.
1. Albrecht, R.R., Anderson, W.A., McGrew, C.A., McKeag, D.B., & Hough, D.O. (1992). NCAA institutionally based drug testing: Do our athletes know the rules of our game?
2. Albrecht, R.R., Anderson, W.A., & McKeag, D.B. (1992). Drug testing of college athletes.
3. Journal of alcohol and drugs education