By Sam Chapman
With all this pointless drama surrounding the ESPN story regarding University of Oregon football players’ usage of marijuana, it’s time to clear the media smoke screen and have a real conversation about college athletes who use marijuana.
A large majority of the general public, including current UO students and alumni, find this entire media blitz laughable — to say the least. Imagine that ESPN had released an article on the rate at which Arizona State University athletes consumed alcohol. Since ASU didn’t win the Rose Bowl or compete in a recent BCS National Championship Game, my guess is that the responses it would probably have received range along the lines of “who cares?” or “who forgot to inform ESPN that ASU has a cultural atmosphere and history that shows high rates of alcohol consumption?” The fact that ESPN and the rest of the mainstream media still finds it fascinating that student athletes (as well as professional athletes) smoke marijuana for whatever reason just goes to show how ignorant they are to the rising acceptance of the marijuana culture in America today.
Ok, so ESPN has already received tons of flack from a number of different venues on the issue, but what is going through the mind of student athletes? Student athletes are likely to be an upcoming topic of conversation as to why marijuana should be treated like alcohol. But can we honestly approach student athletes and expect them to speak openly about their recreational use of marijuana? Of course not.
What we should consider doing for them is to create a safe place for them to talk about marijuana in a way that allows a real dialogue to take place outside the realm of media spitfire and shaming. It is with that goal that I have decided to create a Student Athletes for Sensible Drug Policy group. This group will aim to engage student athletes in an attempt to reveal and expose draconian athletic drug policies that treat marijuana as if it is more harmful than alcohol.
Do you think Oregon football coach Chip Kelley would rather have his team go out binge drinking the week before a big game? Or do you think he would rather have them stay home, light up a joint and remove themselves from the possibility of getting into trouble from attending a raging keg party? I have firsthand experience watching UO football players pounding shots at the bar, and it’s fairly scary when one of them starts to near his limit.
Yes, marijuana is unfortunately still illegal, and understandably, I don’t expect athletes to come out and advocate for the legalization of marijuana. But if they can get good grades, take our team to the Rose Bowl and BCS National Championship Games, all the while smoking some pot here and there, I say: let ‘em play.
University of Oregon Senior
Oregon Students for Sensible Drug Policy State Coordinator