Back Again and Marijuana in Sports

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted here, more than four and a half months actually. It was a very busy spring semester at school and I’m now interning at the Washington Monthly, a political magazine, in Washington D.C. I’m hoping to get to some Nationals games while I’m here, but right now, I’m head deep in politics and policy and enjoying it a lot. However, it also gives me some time to get this blog back going. I’m adjusting my philosophy on posting though. Previously, I tried to write between 300-500 per post, delivering more of my opinions and delving a bit deeper into a topic. But as I read more and more, this just isn’t the best way for a blog to work. One hundred or 200 words is plenty for a blog post. Quoting an article and offering a brief thought is good as well. So while I still put out a lengthier post every once in a while, I’m planning on sticking to short ones for now.

The Associated Press recently examined the drug testing policies of eleven of the 12 SEC schools and what they found probably will surprise some people: testing positive for marijuana really isn’t a big deal at all:

In the most successful league of the BCS-era, players routinely get third, fourth and even fifth chances before they’re booted from the team

If you fail an NCAA drug test, you receive a suspension. But SEC schools are much more lenient:

Currently, a second positive test at Mississippi might simply mean the loss of free tickets for family and/or community service.

Six of the schools have a three-strikes-and-you’re-out method. At Florida, you might get a fifth strike. At Arkansas, four. And Ole Miss doesn’t have a defined number.

Is this really a big deal at all though? In the April 30 issue of ESPN the Magazine, Mark Schlabach detailed it more specifically:

In the NCAA’s latest drug-use survey, conducted in 2009 and released in January, 22.6 percent of athletes admitted to using marijuana in the previous 12 months.

And that number is almost certainly on the low end. I’m sure many players feared that their anonymous answer would become public and ruin their careers. College athletes smoke weed. But it’s more than that. Many college students smoke weed. Now, I’m certainly not going into the legality of marijuana here, but the fact is that college students smoke pot and student athletes are no different. Stringent drug testing would certainly bring down the number of athletes who partake in the activity, but it would also catch many athletes, likely some of those at the top of their revenue-generating sports. Does the NCAA want its best players sitting out a significant period of time for smoking weed? I doubt it so I don’t see stricter enforcement in the future. If anything, I see the opposite.


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