Robert Harlin III
Professor Paul Hankamp
16 May 2014
Is drug abuse a common theme in collegiate and professional levels in sports?
Drug abuse is a common dilemma throughout America. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health, it was found that 23.5 million persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009, which happens to be 9.3 percent of people age 12 and up. Similarly, collegiate & professional athletes also struggle with drug abuse. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) study released in January of this year revealed that 22.6 percent of college of athletes smoke marijuana. In interviews with The Magazine, 19 current and former University of Oregon Ducks football players and coaches revealed widespread marijuana use by football players for at least the past 15 years. Former Oregon alumni, including some that are currently in the National Football League (NFL), believe between 40 percent to 60 percent of their teammates smoke marijuana or have previously smoked marijuana. Marijuana use amongst professional athletes is a very widespread occurrence. According to retired NFL offensive lineman and current ESPN analyst, Lomas Brown, he believes that more than half of all NFL players currently smoke marijuana on a regular basis. Not only is marijuana a problem in collegiate sports and professional sports such as the National Basketball Association (NBA) and NFL, “hardcore drugs” such as heroin, steroids, and cocaine have been abused as well.
Athletes in modern America face loads of pressure to perform well from fans, friends, family, and the media hype. So players like Todd Marinovich and Chris Herren used drugs to deal with this kind of pressure. Todd Marinovich grew up in a broken home where his dad constantly made him participate in extreme workouts and diets at a very young age. He was never allowed to eat the things that most, if not all, other children were allowed to eat such as Oreos, Ding Dongs, and Big Macs. His childhood closely resembled the lifestyles that current NFL players experience today. Marinovich's unique development led to growing media attention. In January 1988, he appeared on the cover of California magazine with the headline, "ROBO QB: THE MAKING OF A PERFECT ATHLETE." With constant pressure from his dad and the growing media hype, Marinovich turned to drugs as coping mechanism. He began to smoke marijuana on a daily basis, which ultimately resulted in the use of more hardcore and dangerous drugs. Although he was still drafted into the NFL, he had a very short career because he used various illegal drugs and was kicked off various NFL teams for his frequent drug use and failing drug test.
Similar to Todd Marinovich, Chris Herren faced loads of pressure in high school. He went to Durfee High School in Fall River, Massachusetts, a high school basketball powerhouse, where...