, Research Paper
Drug Testing in High School Athletics?
Kids do as kids see is a popular statement you hear often. This is true to a certain extent. When a baby is growing up, him/her mimics other people s
moves and actions to help he/she learn. However, this statement becomes
totally untrue when that baby becomes a teenager and decides to enter an
athletics program in high school. Each person has choices and rights under a
wonderful document put together by our forefathers: the Constitution. Or do
they? This document is now being revised by the Supreme Court. Unfortunately,
their revisions are designed to further their own personal beliefs and end up
ignoring the overall outcome. In a majority 6-3 decision June 26th, 1995, the
Supreme Court upheld random testing for drugs in public high school athletic
programs. A statement released by Justice Antonin Scalia asserted
that, Fourth Amendment rights…are different in public schools than
elsewhere. This is a bold but completely outrageous statement. In all my
years of U.S. history classes I don t recall the Constitution designating any
restrictions to the Amendment. Moreover, I personally believe that it is
horrifying that any group of people, even those who sit on the Supreme Court,
has the choice to white-out and then rewrite the Constitution and by doing so
nullify the rights of children in public schools.
Drugs are definitely a problem in the U.S. in general and in school
districts across the country in particular. However, according to the
Statistical Handbook on Adolescents in America, the overall use of hard drugs
is down over the past 18 years and the use of more mild drugs, such as
marijuana, has only risen slightly. And so, the questions arise: Are drugs
enough of a problem in schools to make mandatory drug testing of students
necessary? Is this not a violation of the students Fourth Amendment rights?
The small town of Veronia, Oregon has been the center of the debate over the
whole issue. This town of 3,000 people decided in 1989 to use the policy of
requiring high school athletes from grades seven to twelve to be tested for
drug use throughout the sports season. This decision came, After consulting
with parents in a community meeting, and the school board (Woo and Seo).
Again, I believe that a small point has been overlooked in this situation: the
student s opinion on the decision.
The Fourth Amendment states that every citizen is to be free from
unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause. But by granting a
school system the authority to single out students and force them to urinate in
a cup, the Supreme Court has sanctioned just the type of program our
forefathers wanted to protect us from.(Goodwin)
Beyond the argument stated above, the tests are very costly for a national
education system which, in some cases, cannot even provide new books and
updated materials to their students. The drug tests cost about $30 per
student. (Goodwin) This does not sound like a great expense. However, take
into consideration that an average AA high school has about 1,500 students and
20% of the students are in some sort of athletic program. The price tag is
already at $9,000 for only one overall test for those 300 kids. The most
ridiculous fact of all is that the test for steroids is not used, even though
the drug is used almost exclusively in athletics, because this test costs much
more then the standard tests. For all of these reasons, this law is
ineffective and much too costly overall.
The Supreme Court s main argument is dictated in a statement made by
Justice Scalia, The most significant element in this case is that it concerns
children who have been committed to the temporary custody of the state as
schoolmaster. Therefore, he is saying that once a child arrives at school,
the school s teachers and administrators take over as legal guardians and are
allowed to do as they please with that child. The Supreme Court s other main
point in this decision is that the tests are directed toward the athletics
programs because the court seems to see athletes as the role models of high
schools. According to Justice Scalia, I seems that a drug problem fueled
largely by…athletes…is effectively addressed by making sure that the
athletes do not use drugs (Scalia).
On some points the decision is a very good idea, but it does have a faulty
screw. The fact that an innocent student can be pulled from class and forced
to urinate in a cup to be tested for drug use is the main flaw. Justice
Scalia s assertion that teachers and administrators become the temporary
guardians of the students and have the right to do whatever they feel is in
direct conflict with a decision made by the same court. For example, In 1984,
the court said principals and teachers could search the lockers and purses
[only] of students suspected of violating the rules (Woo and Seo). Not only is
the Supreme Court practically re-drafting the Constitution, but it has also
shown insecurity about its decision by suggesting that problems may arise
regarding the limits of random drug testing. At what point does random drug
testing violate students rights? The Supreme Court seems that not to have
decided. Moreover, who is to say who the real role models of high schools
really are? They could be anyone from the stars of the band to the
cheerleaders to maybe just the most popular student. So again, the Court s
decision fails because it separates out high school athletes that are no more
role models than any other student in the high school.
The whole thought of this is appalling. Random drug testing of student
athletes is costly, ineffective, and most importantly, a violation of students
Fourth Amendment rights under the Constitution. If the Supreme Court can pull
off a ridiculous verdict such as forcing young athletes to take random drug
tests to consistently prove their innocence, and by doing so waste our very
valuable and scarce education tax dollars, what s next?
Chadwick, Bruce A. Table H2-3. Statistical Handbook on Adolescents in
America. Oryx:Canada 1996.
Goodwin, Joe. Drug Testing Makes High School Athletes Second Class
Citizens.” The LosAngeles Times. 2 Jul. 1995: M3.
Scalia, Antonin. Veronia School District 47j v. Acton. 26 Jun. 1995.
Woo, Elaine and Diane Seo. On Front Lines of Campus Drug War, Many Back
Tests. The Los Angeles Times. 27 Jun. 1995: A10