Thanks to problems in professional sports, steroids stay in our sports news headlines. And sometimes the problems of the pros become confused with the problems of schools.
After one year and $100,000 to test 600 athletes, with one positive result, Florida has abandoned its steroids testing of high school athletes, appropriately so in our opinion. Steroid testing of high school tournament athletes in Michigan would be a colossal waste of time and money.
Given the MHSAA’s consistent opposition to mandatory steroid testing of its tournament athletes, you might think we would take issue when one of Michigan’s public school districts makes news that it will be considering voluntary drug testing for students. But we don’t. A program that is voluntary and not limited to athletes and steroids may be both needed and effective in some communities.
- Effective because it wouldn’t single out a portion of the student body and a fraction of the drug problem.
- Effective because it wouldn’t ignore the fact that steroids and other performance-enhancing substances don’t rank in the top ten of student drug problems, and this program might get to the more serious drug problems.
- Effective if it would be accompanied with educational efforts.
- Effective if it would promote communication between schools, parents and youth about healthy living and positive life choices.
Neither the need nor the resources exists to test for steroids at MHSAA tournaments. But if schools and their communities agree to conduct broader tests of a wider group of students, that’s their business.
Rather than wasting resources to test young athletes statewide for steroid use, we would do better to be investing more resources locally to test young athletes’ hearts and heads, that is, to evaluate their medical histories more thoroughly for the more serious health threats of congenital heart defects and previous head trauma.
An article by Brian Alexander on the Health page of MSNBC.com on Aug. 26, 2009 contributes positively to the steroid testing discussion (“Student steroid tests get ‘F,’ some say”). Click here for the story.