Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Teen Athletes & Drinking

According to Mike Littwin of the Denver Post, high school athletic programs have "passed for too long" on the issue of teen drinking, and teen athletes who violate the law and their school rules and their team contracts by drinking "need to be broomed. History. See ya. End of story."

Littwin's comments in his Sunday column followed the news that number one-ranked 4A football team Valor Christian beat number three-ranked Pomona by an embarrassing score of 38-0. The caveat of this news came with the revelation that Pomona had suspended twelve of its starters for a game after they were caught drinking the previous weekend.

Littwin believes high schools - especially their athletic programs - have been completely lax for far too long, and it's reached a point where they practically condone the illegal behavior because the athletes have little fear of losing anything significant if they are caught. The students literally "don't care. They have no fear. Embarrassment? What's that? Honor? Yeah, right.

Sadly, "too many adults can't handle their own drinking," much less be bothered to worry about the actions of teens. Some even consider it a right of passage, a right of youth. And high schools who require contracts with their students for activities are undermining their authority by having policies with no teeth. Some even allow students to serve suspensions after the season is over. That is outrageous - but I hear about it all the time.

If the coaches and schools had any integrity, the policy would matter. Set the bar high. If a student is caught drinking or doing drugs in season he is out for the remainder of the season. Immediately. Period.

Is that too harsh? Littwin doesn't think so. Neither do I.


Anonymous said...

The issue here is whether the school should act as law-enforcement for activities conducted out of school. I don't like the idea.

If the school is going to have such rules, it should enforce them, but I'm not a fan of such rules in the first place.

If the schools don't want to be held accountable for student behavior/achievement failings due to poverty, drug use, "bad" parenting, alcoholism, violence etc. that impact students, perhaps they should stay out of judging students' out-of-school behavior.

Schools complain there is too much on their plates. There is. It needn't take on the job of law-enforcement as well.

Kody S. said...

I think that coaches should enforce rules on their players. It shouldn't be left to school administrators, but to athletic directors and coaches. If a coach doesn't have the integrity to hold players to contracts or verbal agreements, then maybe its time for a new coach or AD.

Coming from a system that does not hold players accountable for multiple offenses, I would like to see this change.

Abellia, I dont think the issue is that schools are taking on the job of law enforcement, but rather holding players accountable for what they agreed to not do. At all levels beyond high school sports, players are held accountable for their actions off the field, yet Universities and the NFL are replacing law enforcement. Playing sports in high school is privilage, and some student athletes need to be reminded of that.

Anonymous said...


As I said, I don't like the idea of such rules. If you want to make a rule that says you can't come to practice drunk, fine, but that's not what we're talking about here.

Would it be OK for the school to start giving detention to kids caught by the vice-principal driving 60 in a 55?

mazenko said...

The difference is that sports is an extra-curricular. Additionally, the actions of one in this case can significantly impact the lives of others who are depending on him. That's not the case with grades or day-to-day work. If a student wants to blow off his homework or speed that's his right. But if his behavior negatively impacts a team's ability to compete, it's different. Students have a right of placement in the classroom - not so on a team or in any EC activity.