One of the major issues involving young people and athletes today is the use of marijuana and other recreational drugs. I have been involved in various levels of amateur sport and currently as a high school teacher notice that this problem is more prevalent now than I believe it has ever been.
Who is to blame for this epidemic? Society? Parents? Teenagers? Musicians? Athletes? The answer to this question is an entirely different conversation. However, the NFL can serve a large role in deterring young people and athletes from using marijuana and other illegal drugs.
Two things I constantly hear around schools, athletics, and pop culture are pot isn’t addictive and pot will not ruin my life. How can young people and especially athletes think this way? Professional athletes are seen as role models and trend setters by young athletes. Young athletes see professional athletes being arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana or DUI’s and see slap-on-the-wrist punishments occur. They are suspended for one game or fined an undisclosed amount of money and they are back in the game.
This is where the NFL, or any other professional organization for that matter, can step in and set an example for collegiate and interscholastic athletic programs to follow. When a college standout goes to the NFL combine and fails a drug test, something should be done. Percy Harvin of the Minnesota Vikings serves as a prime example. During the NFL combine he tested positive for marijuana and nothing was done. The NFL could have banned Harvin from participating in the combine and fined any teams who attempted to draft him. It would take a hard stand like this by the NFL to discourage players from using drugs.
Detroit Lion defensive tackle Nick Fairley was arrested twice earlier this year in his hometown of Mobile, Ala. One of those arrests was for marijuana possession. His cases have been combined and he currently has a Nov. 22 hearing date. Meanwhile, he is in training camp with the Lions. He reportedly faces a two game suspension from Commissioner Roger Goodell but little else. Incidents like this send the wrong message to young athletes.
If the NFL and other professional sport organizations adopted harsher penalties for using marijuana and other recreational drugs, lower levels of competition would follow. College athletic programs have their own rules regarding such issues as do interscholastic athletic programs. The participation in athletic events on a high level is an opportunity not a right. More stringent penalties should be adopted for the use of marijuana. So, is pot not addictive and will it not ruin your life? Ask former Auburn University running back Michael Dyer and former Florida State University cornerback Greg Reid. Both of whom were dismissed from their respective teams because of failed marijuana tests.
Dyer in fact was just dismissed from Arkansas State, where he had only been in school for a few months. This followed reports of a March 10 traffic stop in Arkansas where a State Trooper found marijuana and a gun in Dyer’s vehicle. Dyer wound up only getting a traffic ticket. The trooper was fired from his job Aug. 1 after the incident surfaced when a media outlet obtained a copy of the dash cam video of the stop.
The NFL needs to have more stringent rules and regulations for the use of marijuana and other recreational drugs. Is a three-strikes-and-you-are-out rule good enough? Personally, I do not believe it is. For those making millions of dollars a year to play a game, one strike is all you should get.
Philip Dugas is currently a doctoral student enrolled at the United States Sports Academy. He teaches English at a high school in Naples, Fla., where he is also the head baseball coach. Mr. Dugas received a bachelor’s in Sport Management from North Greenville University and a master’s in Sport Administration from Florida State University. He can be reached by email at Bboy163@aol.com.