Essay, Research Paper
Drugs in Football: Making an Appropriate Decision
Breaking the rules in football, because of drug use, is causing
physical and mental damage to athletes and those who associate with them.
It is also setting a bad example for the youth of America. There is just too
many available drugs for football players today.
For football players, drugs are easy to obtain. Too easy to obtain.
Bill Gilbert, a Sports Illustrated writer, said, “they do not have to stand
around in waiting rooms, at pharmacy counters, or on street corners for their
fixes. Drugs are brought to them, and usually provided free of charge. The
athlete gets free professional advice from physicians and assisting trainers
as to what drugs to take, and when, and how ” (Harris 14). The variety and
number of drugs available is enormous. The two main types of drugs
available are physically enhancing and mentally enhancing drugs. Both
types have the most deadliest consequence in common, death. Each type
has its own pros and cons. Yes, there are some positive effects, but they are
not worth the later consequences.
Some athletes need help to maintain a mental edge on their game and
opponents. Some need help getting psyched up before a game. Those
athletes that do, turn to drugs. The most used drugs that athletes turn to are
amphetamines. Amphetamines effect the central nervous system. They
prepare the body for action by stimulating the rate of respiration, heartbeat,
and raising the blood pressure. Many coaches and trainers agree that no
other drug is so widely distributed in clubhouses and locker rooms. People
who have taken many pills over a short period of time develop the delusion
of insects crawling on their skin. That delusion is an hallucination, one of
many side effects of mentally enhancing drugs. One instance of the
negative effects of amphetamines happened on a high school football field a
few years ago.
Unaware that the running back was high on amphetamines, the coach
sent the running back into the game. The quarter back was then snapped the
ball from the center and got ready to hand the running back the ball. The
running back then thought he took the ball and made a brilliant run into the
endzone. That athlete made a complete fool of himself because of drugs.
Another largely used drug is the infamous cocaine.
Cocaine is an alkaloid derived from the coca leafs. It too effects the
central nervous system. Cocaine is considered one of the most dangerous
drugs around. According to former New Orleans Saint Don Reese, who quit
because of cocaine, “cocaine can be found in quantity throughout the NFL.
It’s pushed on players, often from the edge of the practice field. Sometimes
it’s pushed by players. Prominent players. Just as it controlled me, it now
controls and corrupts the game, because so many players are on it. To
ignore this fact is to be short-sighted and stupid. To turn away from it the
way the NFL does… is a crime “(Harris 31). Cocaine is a definite problem
in the NFL. “A investigative reporter estimated that 50% of the NFL’s
1,372 players have taken cocaine. That is about 686 players. He also
estimated that around 20% were addicted to cocaine. That is around 274
players. He concluded that 10 players in each team were hooked on cocaine
Another controversy in all of the sports world is that of whether steroid use
should be accepted or not.
There are many pro’s to taking steroids, but too many con’s. Steroids
are physically enhancing drugs. They are derived from the male hormone
testosterone. They are synthetically manufactured and can be taken orally
or injected. Steroids work by stimulating body cells to store abnormally
large quantities of nitrogen. Steroids can increase muscle mass, strength,
and endurance of an athlete. They can also achieve a quicker recovery. Of
course, if the muscle mass in increased, then the body weight will increase.
If the athlete is using steroids secretively, then they will have a high prestige
among the sports world for being strong, good looking, and vigorous.
There are very few pros’s compared to all the con’s of using steroids. Just a
few con’s are: increase in acne, mood swings and violence, kidney cancer,
liver and prostate cancer, altered cholesterol, baldness in males, deepening
voice, depression, headaches, heart disease, impotence, blood clotting
ability reduced, menstruating irregularities, shrinking testicles, facial hair in
women, and madness (psychosis). Those are just a few con’s though. Paul
Lowe, an all-pro running back for the San Diego Chargers, testified before
the Subcommittee on Drug Abuse and Alcoholism of the California State
Legislature. Lowe stated, “we had to take steroids at lunchtime, the trainer
would put them on a little saucer and prescribe for us to take them, and if
not he would suggest there might be fine ” (Harris 13). It is terrible for pros
to be threatened to take dangerous drugs. Not only are the players
damaging themselves, but they are being helped doing it.
Athletes fear failure. Some become so obsessed with this fear that
they feel the only path to relief is through drugs. A lot of players hurt
themselves. Although they have to know it is wrong, they still do it. A
Miami Dolphins trainer told Bill Gilbert of Sports Illustrated that, “some of
the pros need almost a full week to get over being pepped up for Sunday.
Afterward, they must have either tranquilizers or whiskey to bring them
down. So they move through a cycle: pepped up, drunk, hung over,
depressed, and then pepped up again ” (Harris 86). There are many straight
athletes getting injured by the irresponsible drug addicts.
In one pro game, across the field, the ball is called dead and the play
comes to a halt. On Lynn Swann’s side of the field, the Pittsburgh receiver
is jogging back to the sideline when he is suddenly decked in the back of
the head by Oakland safety George Atkinson. This action keeps Swann out
of the game for several weeks, and one bid fine for Atkinson. Atkinson was
under the influence of amphetamines. That is just one instance of many
where the users of drugs are hurting others. Dr. Arnold Mandell, former
psychiatric advisor to the San Diego Chargers, made an awesome statement.
“Imagine what it is like to gulp down thirty pills at one time. The result is
a… five-hour temper tantrum that produces the late hits, the fights, the
assaults on quarter backs that are ruining pro football. They’re at war out
there ” (Harris 83). The anger that goes through one’s mind when taken out
from behind (by an abuser) is indescribable. Not only are the users ruining
football, they are setting a terrible example for the youth of America.
It is a known fact, coaches scout kids young. The kids are scouted as
early as the sixth grade. Then the player is receiving newsletters, scouting
notices, and even bribes from the scouters’ high schools. “By the time they
have made the pros, most athletes have been given so many pills, salves,
injections and potions, by amateur and pro coaches, doctors and trainers, to
pick them up, cool them out, kill pain, enhance performance, reduce
inflammation and erase anxiety, that there isn’t much they won’t sniff,
spread, stick in or swallow to get bigger or smaller, or to feel goooood ”
With all these children and teens watching their idols do these drugs, is
there any hope for a new, healthy generation of football players? The
answer is yes, and it lies in the hands of pros, former pros, and
well-educated and experienced speakers.
Probably the most famous/well-known speaker is the outstanding,
All-American football player, Curt Marsh. Marsh was forced to retire with
a severe ankle injury many years ago. Since then, he has spoken to more
than 500,000 students on violence, substance abuse prevention, leadership,
and positive thinking. Carl Eller, a former All-Pro defensive linemen for
the Minnesota Vikings, had a $4,000-a-week cocaine problem. When he
started to see opposing players sneer at him, he volunteered for treatment.
Eller is now a drug consultant for the NFL. These 500,000 students, along
with all the others informed by different speakers, will spread the word on
how harmful drug-use is. Now that the future generation has hope, is there
hope for the users and abusers now? Again, the answer is yes.
The NFL has a very successful “Substance Abuse Policy.” Under the
program, players are given drug test while in physical and psychological
treatment, but the results are used for treatment, not disciplinary reasons.
Narcotics Anonymous is another very successful, international community
based association of recovering drug addicts. There are thousands of
centers and programs across the United States where people may get help.
Now since all of those speakers and abusers are seeking help, football is
Besides a very few recent cases, football is improving is
sportsmanship. Even with the players involved in the few recent cases have
seeked help. Drugs are killers. Almost every pro athlete alive knows the
dangers of drugs, yet some continue to use and abuse them just to get a few
good years. That is their choice if they want to ruin their lives along with
the lives of their faithful fans. The young football player today, should have
enough discipline to make the positive and right decision, to “Just Say No.”