By now, word has spread that Fredonia’s athletes will submit to random drug testing starting in the fall. A few per semester, time unspecified.
The last time I experienced this was when I worked at a boarding school in Alaska. The students were mostly Native Alaskan from tiny, remote villages, and were struggling in the public school system. Drug and alcohol abuse was rampant in the area, and it wasn’t uncommon to hear about someone freezing to death, drunk or high. Random drug testing saved these students’ lives.
Random drug testing for college athletes saves lives too, but usually not in the same way. More often, it saves lives like this:
Henry tests positive for marijuana –> Henry is forced to talk to athletic department staff about his positive test –> Henry tells them he’s been having a hard time and uses marijuana to cope –> Henry goes to counseling –> Henry learns better strategies to cope with anxiety –> Henry learns to channel that anxiety towards something meaningful and fulfilling.
Random drug testing could directly save lives, but more frequently it saves souls. More frequently, it saves young people from Thoreau’s oft-quoted line:
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”