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Drug Testing In Schools Debate: Schools Drug Testing Student Athletes?


Mindy Gallagher

Elyria Catholic High School in Elyria, Ohio will begin drug testing their student athletes this fall. After a very successful trial with their soccer team, the school will now test all their student athletes. An outside company will administer the drug tests at the beginning of the year. Three times during the season, 20% will be randomly tested. The school’s principal commented that the program has been well received by student athletes, parents and the school community as a whole. The tests will screen for alcohol and illegal drugs, including steroids. The school sees this program as a preventative measure to keep kids safe and healthy.

Drug Testing in High School Sports

Peer pressure is tough, so maybe this program is a great excuse for kids not to drink or use drugs. It gives them a wonderful “out” without losing their cool.

Should drug testing be extended to all extra-curricular activity?

I think drug testing in schools should be extended to all extra-curricular activity. Drugs and alcohol are unsafe and illegal, so why not test everyone? If it means keeping kids safe and straight with the law, then I think it is necessary. Safety and the law are the most important things that schools should consider, so why not do the best you can to prevent issues with both by simply randomly testing students?

I guess you could think about it as an “out” when it comes to peer pressure. I don’t know how I really feel about this. I’d like to know a little more, like what is the punishment if a student fails a drug test and will other non illegal substances come up on the drug screens as something bad?

I almost feel like this idea would cause a lot of kids just not to bother joining sports if they knew that they would be submitted to drug and alcohol testing. And when kids don’t have an after school sport or activity, that is when the real bad stuff starts happening.

But at the same time drug testing is part of the real world. Jobs will drug test you and professional athletes have to withhold from drugs as well. So being tested for being on any sporting team makes sense.

Steroid Use

So I guess what I am saying is it gives me an icky “Big Brother is watching you” feeling, but I understand the reasons why the school would do drug testing. As long as this doesn’t become a whole school population thing, then I think it should be extended to all sports. Though again, those teams should be prepared to lose some players in the beginning of the season and during.

Drug-testing for employees and for athletes is justifiable because those people receive money for their responsibility. Top athletes get paid for being role-models to the world – they show people what it means to work hard and become the best – something that would have no value if they were on steroids or abusing other drugs. Having a job means letting other people trust you to work professionally, whether that be making food or saving lives. Drugs are simply unacceptable.

I can see how steroid use would be a relevant and important thing to test for in athletes, specifically those people who qualify for state or national level competition; however non-performance enhancing drugs are irrelevant to sports. If a coach notices drug-induced behavior at practice, then by all means he should have that player tested.

Random Testing

However, randomly testing everyone under no suspicion is an invasion of privacy. Students have rights as human beings, even if it is a right to stupidity. But it’s a right that cannot be impeded upon. It would be exactly what Devan calls it, an “icky Big Brother” feeling. If a student is susceptible to taking drugs, then nothing would stop him or her from taking drugs after the sports season is over. High schoolers are almost adults, and in the end only they can be responsible for their behavior and decisions.

You know, something about this doesn’t feel right.

Like Devan, I just don’t like the “big brother” tone. Random testing of all students just seems like too much control and interference with an individual’s private life. It’s one thing to test students who have had a prior infraction, or something on their record that requires extra supervision. But I have to oppose testing of all students’ before they join clubs or other school groups.

Health Consequences

Sports teams, however, are different. Unfortunately, we live in a culture which reveres superstar athletes on the professional level. Training for that goal starts in the college and high school level and even earlier. Steroids and other dangerous enhancement drugs are unfortunately a large part of that culture. What we see publicly is only the tip of the iceberg. Use of these drugs can seriously threaten the health of young athletes and permanently damage them for the rest of their lives. Often teenagers are unable to see these horrible consequences since they are blinded by the possibility of becoming a star and the big advantage that these drugs give.

So…I vote yes on random testing for all student athletes, but no for random testing in general.

Mindy Gallagher is the Social Media Manager for Your Teen Magazine. She is the assistant coach for the girls’ lacrosse team for Solon High School in Ohio.

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