Sunday, June 15, 2003

To the editor:

In today's society, high school sports are extremely competitive. Tryouts usually last several days and are quite strenuous. Students chosen as members of a team take on a serious responsibility. As a team, whatever action athletes make reflects and affects the whole team. However, many athletes fail to represent their team in an adequate manner.

During the school year I see plenty of respectable student athletes betraying their school and team by using drugs. Alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs -- all are considered drugs. Disappointment fills my heart when tremendous athletes with great potential destroy their body with drugs.

While in high school, students need to fill their minds with knowledge, not drugs. Random drug testing works great for finding and stopping students using drugs. Unannounced testing prevents students from knowing who will be tested or when the testing will occur. Random drug testing catches athletes using drugs during the season, allows an even playing field for all students and helps prevent drug addictions and accidents.

Although the positives of drug testing are numerous, negatives still appear. Privacy of the athletes will be invaded, and the cost of drug testing is high. However, I still maintain that random drug testing is the best way to keep drugs out of the hands of student athletes.

Athletes who use drugs probably know the consequences but think they won't get caught. Random drug testing creates the potential of catching athletes who use drugs. Most student athletes using drugs in a sports season never get caught. These students either use drugs at a party or at home, so the coaches and school administration never find out. Athletes caught using drugs usually occurs from a reported act or suspicion.

Although random drug testing could catch student athletes using drugs, it also invades privacy. The Portland Mercury, in the article "High School Athletes Stripped," reported that a 15-year-old Oregon girl who played volleyball refused to sign a consent form for drug testing. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the school district for violating the Fourth Amendment. The school district requires student athletes to participate in drug testing. The girl lost her spot on the volleyball team when she refused to be tested. Good, upstanding students find it unfair that they have to be tested along with the untrustworthy athletes.

One fact remains certain: All students in high school sports deserve an even playing field. When one student uses steroids, when a student drinks before a game, when several students smoke pot after practice, unfairness comes into play. Random drug testing will create an even playing field for all athletes. This allows exceptionally gifted athletes to be recognized. Athletes who were once blocked by super studs on steroid, can finally show their skills. The playing field becomes fair thanks to drug testing.

Imagine a school where drugs never appeared as a problem. This utopia can be reached with random drug testing. KARI MIINCH


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