Drug Testing Of Student Athletes Essay, Research Paper
Drug Testing of Student Athletes
Mandatory and random drug testing of student athletes violates their right to privacy. The right to privacy is guaranteed under the fourth amendment.
Schools are violating athletes’ rights to privacy by searching them without probable cause. They are already assuming that these athletes are violating policies without any information to confirm this. Athletes should not be singled out for drug testing. It has been proven that student athletes are less likely to drugs than the general student population.
Drug testing may not even bet he most effective way to curb drug use among students. There have been many successful programs to educate students about the effects of drugs. These programs target all students and don’t have punishment as part of their curriculum.
Drug testing can be very costly. Depending on which drugs are included in the test, the price can range from $5 per student to $50 or more. Most schools only have a few students test positive and they see this as stopping the drug problem, but this seems to me that they are only helping those students who test positive and allowing those who don’t to start using drugs again after the season is over. The cost of mandatory and random drug testing raises the price of participating in sports. This, along with the invasion of privacy, leads marginal players not to participate in sports. These students are then very likely to increase their drug use or to start using drugs. These students balance out the benefits of deterring some athletes whom decide to stop using drugs.
In 1991, James Acton and his parents sued the Vernonia School District. James was barred from playing on his seventh-grade football team after he and his parents refused to sign a paper consenting to the mandatory drug test. His parents argued that James would have been subjected to an unreasonable search, because their son was not a known drug user. A federal appeals court ruled the Vernonia School District’s policy of testing student athletes for illegal drugs violated their rights under the U.S. and state constitutions to be free from unreasonable searches. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously decided that the drug policy violated these rights. The court concluded that the drug- testing program was in violation of the Constitution because student athletes’ privacy rights outweighed the government interest in reducing the dangers of drug use.
The case directly conflicted with another ruling so the case was taken to the Supreme Court. The High Court ruled 6-3 on June 25, 1995 to uphold the Oregon school’s program of mandatory urinalysis. This may seem that the court encouraged the urinalysis of student athletes in all circumstances, but that was not the case. The Vernonia School District had a serious drug problem, and that the athletes were thought to be ringleaders of the drug problem. The judges, in my opinion, had ridiculous reasons for allowing these tests. For example, “school sports are not for the bashful” and “students are children, who lack the fundamental rights of adults,” said Justice Scalia. I’d be interested to learn what Justice Scalia would have to say to those students who are 18 and considered adults.
Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor strongly disagrees with the decision handed down, and was the main advocate against the drug testing on the court. She questioned the decision by saying, “It cannot be too often said that the greatest threats to our constitutional freedoms come in times of crisis.” Justice O’Connor believes these tests target the wrong students. She wrote, “By the reasoning of today’s decision, the millions of these students who participate in interscholastic sports, an overwhelming majority of who have given school officials no reason whatsoever to suspect they use drugs at school, are open to intrusive bodily harm.” She also questioned the district’s choice of student athletes as the lone group to subject suspicionless testing. “It seems to me that the far more reasonable choice would have been to focus on the class of students found to have violated published school rules against severe disruption in class and around campus,” she said.
It is clear to me that this kind of drug testing violates students’ rights and the only reason that this testing is allowed is because some feel student’s rights aren’t being violated because districts are trying to help students.
Violating their rights is not he only concern about mandatory drug testing. Drug testing is not 100% fool proof. There have been mistakes in this kind of testing and people wrongly accused of using drugs. There have been other substances that show up on these drug tests than the actual drugs. Some of these results may be a consequence of the food the student had eaten the day before. Even if only one student’s athletic career were ruined because of a mistake in testing that would be tragic.
The benefit of mandatory drug testing has not proved to outweigh the right to privacy for student athletes. It has also been proven that athletes are not the most common students to use drugs and that these tests target and punish the wrong students. Finally there is the chance that there could be an error in a test and effect a student’s life. Misguided attempts to deal with the drug problems of school students, no matter how good intended, should not violate the intent of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.