Student athletes compete under a moral obligation to be at their best, but not to take undue advantage with doping, or to harm their performance (and thereby that of the team) through illegal drug use. To allow drug use is to simply admit that nobody cares if the team is succeeding or failing on their own merits. Why, then, should we test for drugs, if the people gaining from the athletics have no real consequences?
Athletes should be tested to ensure that they are competing fairly. If student athletics leads to concessions in education -- for example, ignoring lower grades and giving scholarship money -- then the athletes are absolutely responsible to the school and to the people providing the money, not to mention other students, to be clean and sober. Otherwise, they are taking advantage of the system to get ahead without their own effort. I think that random drug testing should be legal, that it should require the permission of both the student and the parent, and that if that permission is refused, the school should kick the student off the team. If you have nothing to hide, get tested; if you have something to hide, get tested or get out.
I have to say that I am not against random drug testing in student athletes. Many schools in my area require students to sign a contract stating that they will refrain from drug and alcohol use during the sport season. That said, while any contract with a minor can be deemed invalid, they (the contracts) teach students to be responsible for their actions.
If the student athletes are aware that they can be drug tested at any time, what is the harm?
More harm than good? I do not agree. Essentially, we should not hold younger students to a different standard that athletes in any other market. Many times, these student athletes are trying to become good enough to make it into the "big leagues." They will be held responsible for their actions then, why not hold them accountable now?
Because the odds are so high--our children's and youth's health and sobriety--this is a difficult issue. On the one hand the Supreme Court, the supreme arbitrator of the law of our land, declares it Constitutional and not a violation of privacy. On the other hand, parents are shocked that Sally Sue, who wants to join a Chess Club has to undergo drug testing at age 13.
On the one side of it, the claim of multi-million dollar drug testing companies is that drug testing is a deterrent to errant behavior, that it deters youths trying to make decisions to make the best safe non-drug decisions. On the other side, objective analysts of drug testing data see no evidence that such a deterrent exists: those who tested positive last year, test positive this year (and are expected to test positive next year); those who tested negative continue to test negative. The latter could be evidence of deterrent.
It seems the decision to be for or against comes down to whether you value a drug-free child over privacy or privacy over a drug-free child. There is also concern for possible psychological effects attach to random or extra-curricular activity drug testing that are as yet unexplored.
I'm against the forced drug testing of anyone--be it at the workplace or in schools--due to its inherent invasion of a person's privacy. Voluntary drug testing is fine, should anyone want to satisfy an employer or school administrator. I find the witch hunt for certain illegal drugs, such as marijuana or non-prescription steroids, to be a hypocritical action when other more acceptable forms--like tobacco and alcohol--are far more dangerous to anyone's health.
During the George W. Bush administration, the debate concerning random drug testing of students began in earnest. Schools were actually given federal funds as a “no drugs measure.” The purpose was to help those students who might be trying or beginning to use drugs. To date, there has been little empirical studies to prove or disprove the effectiveness of random testing.
Drug testing within public and private school setting has long been debated. The controversy seems to emanate from the basic issues of personal privacy under constitutional law. Another question is whether the random testing is a deterrent to drug use.
The United States Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that schools may test entire teams of student athletes, even if individual team members are not suspected of using drugs.
In 2002, the Supreme Court allowed the use of tests for any student who participates in any extracurricular activity that has an element of competition.
In New Jersey, a state that does use random testing, one study indicated that the majority of students who are involved in extracurricular activities are less likely to abuse drugs. A study of several of these New Jersey schools stated that there was clear evidence that the RSDT [Random Student Drug Testing] had a positive impact on drug use in those schools.
Early intervention is a valid argument for the drug testing. There must be acceptance on the part of the administration, teachers, parents, and even students to monitor warning signs of drug abuse and an intervention must be made without hesitation when a student exhibits the signs. The other side of the coin emphasizes that if there is no suspicion or probable cause than that student should not be subjected to the drug test.
Nothing seems to be working. The drug problem remains while the ethical battle continues on. The scare tactics and education programs seems to have no real effect on those students who choose to use drugs. Supporters of these laws feel that the benefits that random drug testing can provide, such as a reduction in drug use as well as early intervention for identified substance abusers, far outweigh the potential negative litigation surrounding the issue
The controversial aspect of the drug testing exists from the inherent violation of privacy more than being caught for drug abuse. Many legislators and school administrators are hesitant to enforce random drug testing. This reluctance comes from the feeling that students have rights and these tests encroaches upon the individual's right to the presumption of innocence, as well as the right to be free from unreasonable and unwarranted searches. This argument has been tested in the courts and has always won.
The other side of the coin emphasizes that if there is no suspicion or probable cause than that student should not be subjected to the drug test.
Random drug testing in public high schools is expensive to implement and the money can be spent on other areas of the school's needs, like improving the extracurricular activities in the school, buying new books for students or even implementing drug-prevention strategies for at risk students.
Many school districts are strapped for cash, and many argue that using random drug tests will only add another cost to an already tight budget. In school districts where the board was considering a drug test for its teachers, staff members argued they would rather use the funds appropriated for the tests to be reinvested into school supplies or other teaching aids. They also contest that the practice takes away valuable time the teachers could spend in the classroom.
If the testing is mandated, many schools will not be able to implement the programs because they are already strapped for cash.
My personal belief is that with the agreement of all parties involved there should be no reason not to submit to random testing. If two or three students with substance abuse are found and actions are taken to rehabilitate them, I believe that it would be a deterrent for marginal students.
On the other hand, I fully understand the costs. Schools are strapped for money. The federal government could subsidize if needless expenses were cut. As in most controversial topics, it will take something extreme to happen in order to have any expansive program instituted.
I personally believe random drug testing is a great thing, but not for the reasons that the program was instituted. To me, random drug testing is a perfect out for students who might be compelled by peer pressure to make a decision that they know isn't in their best interest. Having the "I'd like to try it, but I'll get kicked off the football/ basketball/ cheer team" is a powerful weapon for a kid that is trying to make a good decision but not lose face with their peers.
I don't know if my young children will participate in sports or not, but I am highly considering randomly drug testing my children when they hit middle school. Not because I don't trust them, but because they can always blame their "stupid" parents for their decisions and not have to fight peer pressure.
It is hard to see how random drug testing of high school athletes does more harm than good. Such drug testing does, I suppose, send the message to athletes that the adults in their lives do not completely trust them. However, teens already know full well that they are not trusted to simply do whatever they want. This is the only harm I can see in the process.
Set against that are the benefits of testing. By testing, we encourage athletes not to use drugs. This might help to save them from extremely negative consequences down the road. This potential benefit outweighs any harm, at least in my mind.