Juicing the Issue
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform met yesterday for the second inning of its finger-pointing, denial-giving, not-talking-about-the-past examination of baseball’s steroid era. While these particular events usually make great theater (the last installment forever tarnishing the legacy of a certain boyhood hero of the author), yesterday’s congressional examination of the Mitchell Report was overshadowed by steroid news closer to home.
According to an article in yesterday’s Post-Dispatch, the Missouri General Assembly is pushing forth a bill that would require secondary schools to adopt programs that would randomly test student athletes for substances including performance-enhancing drugs, such as anabolic steroids.
The bill comes on the heels of a similar program by the state of Illinois, which is given its traditional due by an official of the Illinois High School Association:
"Our new testing policy will protect the health of our youth and give
students a reason to say no when the pressures mount to take a
shortcut," IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman said in a prepared
Despite this, the proposal is facing a number of criticisms from local coaches and administrators who claim that, in addition to being expensive (about $200 a test), the issue would be best served if it was avoided by the state (emphasis added):
"If local boards of education want to explore the possibility of drug
testing, that’s their option," said Brent Ghan, spokesman for the
Missouri School Boards Association, which opposes the legislation. "It
should be left as a local policy issue."
Some high school athletes will do almost anything to get ahead, but it should not be the place of the state to act as a watchman over the behavior of students participating in sports. Every player on every team has signed some form of code of contact pledging his or her commitment to play the game fairly, and arrangements regarding violations of that code (which certainly include steroid use) can and should be reached at the school or district level.
It’s at this point, not in a committee room in Jefferson City, where the input of coaches, administrators, and parents could all be assessed in order to help solve what obviously would be a deeper problem than simple drug use. Besides, there is nothing that a group of 6’5" 160-pound volleyball players would hate more than submitting a urine sample before a match because the state thinks they’re on the juice.
That being said, steroids are a great danger to any athlete that should never even be considered by developing young men. If you don’t believe me, ask him.