My husband was kind enough to share a story with me yesterday about marijuana use on college campuses, specifically on my beloved former campus at the University of Oregon, and specifically how this prevalent use related to the Ducks football team. I read the entire ESPN story, which was an accomplishment, since it was fairly long and technically a sports article. But here was something I could understand and really relate to… no, I do not relate to the use of drugs. I can, however, relate to living in an environment where drug use is the norm but due to my specific affiliations, I had to rise above and go against ‘the norm.’
A little bit of background would be appropriate at this point: I attended the University of Oregon after leaving active duty in the Air Force (stationed in Alaska, by the way, another popular marijuana haven). I was, however, still in the Air Force Reserves, doing my one-weekend-a-month duty, while attending graduate school. And one event from my first weeks in Eugene sticks out in my mind. I was driving to a party with other students, all of whom I had just met. One young woman began to tell a story of getting pulled over by the police and having shrooms in the car. The funny part (I guess) was that the cops never discovered the shrooms and the group went on their merry way.
Ok, so first of all, if I did drugs, I am not sure I’d be telling people I just met about my brushes with the law related to said drug use. Second, I am just not into the whole drug thing, never have been. Third, simply being associated with drug users when you are serving in the military can get you in hot water with your commander. I made the choice while in school to steer clear of situations (parties, mostly) that put me around those classmates who used drugs.
How does this relate to the Oregon article, you may ask? Well, to me, it seemed this whole article subtlety spoke to the nationwide issue of marijuana use and how prevalent and accepted it is in our society. Yeah, I get it. Marijuana leads to less issues and proves to generally be less dangerous than alcohol (personally, I might have avoided more situations by drinking less alcohol). And yes, many people successfully use marijuana for medicinal uses. And if there is one place that marijuana is openly accepted as part of the culture, it is in Eugene, Oregon. But for me, this does not take away from the fact that it is ILLEGAL.
Having been a part of the military, I know what it means to be part of an organization that holds you to a higher standard. This fact is made abundantly clear when you raise your right hand and are sworn in. I believe that athletes are painfully aware of this fact, as well. Whether they are up to the task of being a role model at age 18 or not, when they become a part of a major college football team, they are role models. They need to live up to that if they want to be a part of the team.
The ESPN article also speaks to the stresses of going to school while maintaining an athletic team schedule. It almost felt as if the writer was cutting the players some slack…due to the stresses of their everyday life, maybe they deserve to relax a bit? Guess, what? Being in the military is stressful, too. And many airmen (soldiers, etc.) attend school while maintaining a crazy work and home life schedule. I, myself, worked swing shift (3 – 11 or later), and still attended about three classes a semester during the day while active duty. Others did it, and had families at home. And then there were the ones who juggled all this while being sent on various deployments. In the military, drug use is simply not accepted. Why should it be any different for athletes?