Editorial: Teach dangers of steroids instead of testing

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

The Illinois High School Association is taking an aggressive role in discouraging young athletes from using performance-enhancing drugs. The IHSA board of directors this week unanimously approved a plan for random drug testing of athletes competing in IHSA state series — including regionals, sectionals and state championships — starting with the 2008-09 school year.

Unlike professional sports, where testing is intended to guard against players gaining an unfair advantage, the IHSA has the health and well-being of children at heart. Over time, steroids cause a variety of side effects and health problems, especially for young users.

But is the $100,000 to $150,000 initial annual cost to run the testing worth stopping a clear minority of high school athletes? A 2003 Illinois Department of Health survey showed about 3 percent of high school athletes had experimented with steroids, an IHSA administrator told the Rockford Register Star.

The IHSA administrator went on to say that 3 percent translates into about 13 students at each of the IHSA member schools. That percentage is undoubtedly less in Galesburg area schools.

And there are concerns with the testing. One coach asked: Who is going to run the tests? What are the costs? What is the setup going to be? How will the teams be penalized? Are they going to test just one participant, or how do they choose who is tested?

Until a lot of the questions are answered, couldn’t the $100,000 to $150,000 be better spent on educating the students about the dangers of using PEDS? After all, teaching, not penalizing, is the purpose of school. Don’t we want students to make choices based on what they’ve learned rather than what they fear?

While the IHSA’s motives are good, we prefer imparting knowledge that will last longer than the fear of being caught.

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