Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yes, I Read the Story...

...about the 15 UNT football players who failed drug tests recently. An anonymous commenter to my post about the passage of the stadium referendum a few weeks ago asked me about it in the comments to that post:
I saw a tv news blurb about your precious UNT atheletes....15 tested positive for drugs! Now is this more embarassing than the condition of Fouts Field? And I hate to say this but a new field will not cancel out (especially in parents' minds) the drugs in the team!
(I'm guessing that this Anonymous is not Anonymous #1, who engaged in a civil discussion with me even though we disagreed, but it could be Anonymous #2, who came in dropping F-bombs, or even a third, completely different one. Should I start requiring people to make up screennames yet?)

Anyway, I'll address Anon's question: First of all, he's talking about this story, the main points of which are as follows:
Fifteen University of North Texas football players failed a drug test conducted this fall at the request of head coach Todd Dodge, according to documents obtained by the Denton Record-Chronicle through the Freedom of Information Act.

Drug tests were conducted on a pool of 86 football players selected by the coaching staff. UNT tested members of the team who were contributing on a regular basis. Fifteen of those tests, or 17 percent, were positive.

The university did not release the names of the players or what drugs they tested positive for.
First of all, take note that this was something that Coach Dodge requested on his own; the story notes that it's distinct from the tests done by the NCAA. Dodge has high standards, and if some players are falling short of those standards, it's good to nip the problem in the bud and get the players the help they need. Dodge said as much in the article:
“I don’t think we have a problem with drugs, but I will say that it’s every coach’s prerogative to test his team,” Dodge said. “It’s a great tool to help players stay away from drugs and temptations. When I talked to my team about drug testing all of them, I told them that if there was one young man on our team who secretly needed help, if it saved one young man from getting in trouble or ending up dead, then it is worth it.”

[...]The school normally tests athletes on a random basis.

“We call ourselves a team and it was appropriate to test the entire team,” Dodge said. “I don’t go by the protocol of what every other team has done.

“We are past it now and can go down the road.”
So to the Anon who's trying to turn this into some sort of "I told you so!", all I can say is this: We get it. You don't think that the UNT students should have voted for the stadium fee. But something like this incident does not mean that those students, or the alumni who support the idea--were wrong to do so. If anything, it just goes to show once again what a stand-up guy Todd Dodge is, and it's good to know that the new facility might well play a role in helping to keep him in Denton for a long time.

And in the meantime, since the voters (albeit a small percentage of them, but still larger than any student election in recent memory) have spoken, it's probably about time to apply the coach's wisdom to this subject: Get past it, and go down the road. (Anyone want to take bets on whether or not that will happen?)

UPDATE: A later story notes that what Dodge had his players tested for were "recreational" drugs, while the NCAA tests are for performance-enhancing drugs. That doesn't make what the players did any better, but it does clarify some things.

Also, a commenter at the original linked DRC story raises an interesting question:
Anyone that thinks this problem is isolated to the football team is ignorant. I would be curious to know how many of the 34,000+ student would test positive if tested today. Though not right, this goes on at every school, on every team and in all parts of society. Those that cast stones better not live in glass houses.
Good point.

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