Texas Christian University (TCU) football coach Gary Patterson recently stated that starting quarterback Casey Pachall is not going to face team discipline after he admitted to police that he used marijuana after failing a drug test back in February. Even though his statements regarding the incident don’t indicate him favoring the use of marijuana by his players, Patterson clearly values coaching honest players instead of pretending his football players are all the perfect, sober, college athletes that the sports status quo wants them to be.
“One thing I’ve liked is that he’s been honest,” Patterson said. “His dad is a retired highway patrolman. One thing he’s always been told to do is to be honest.”
Sadly, a handful of Pachalls’s teammates were not so lucky. On Feb. 15, four football players were arrested in connection with a campus-wide drug ring. Tanner Brock, D.J. Yendrey, Devin Johnson, and Ty Horn all were arrested and received probation after pleading guilty to marijuana delivery charges. All four were kicked off the team. Pachall was detained, then released to university-mandated drug and alcohol counseling.
“I know I’m not perfect,” Pachall said Sunday. “But I’ve learned from those mistakes and I’m still learning. It’s a day-to-day process for me of trying to be a better person.”
Can you imagine how hard Pachall was grinding his teeth when he said this? Must have been tough to pretend that you actually believe smoking marijuana is going to destroy your sports career when you know for a fact that it never has come close to jeopardizing your career and probably never will.
At first glance the absence of severe punishment for Pachall seemed to be a win for professional athletes who also decide to use cannabis as a safer alternative to alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs, but given that four of Pachall’s teammates were kicked off the team for testing positive for marijuana begs the question, isn’t it time to address the politics that are at play in drug testing students for marijuana?
Don’t get me wrong, I do think student athletes should be held to a professional standard in terms of being able to pass a drug test. But such a test should be looking for what matters, like performance enhancing drugs, not marijuana. Let me be clear, athletes at the top of their game should have the right to go home after a long week of practice, sit down and consume some marijuana to relax. I find it hard to believe that any decent football coach would rather have their players hitting the bar or the prescription pills instead of smoking a harmless joint to wind down from a tough week.
So what’s the big deal here? Coaches are not dumb… they know that marijuana is the safer alternative that their players have in front of them on the average Friday night. It’s time to have a serious conversation between the NCAA who makes many of the drug testing policies, coaches, players, and a credible organization that has an elementary education regarding the effects of marijuana in comparison to other popularly accepted drugs that happen to actually be harmful to athletes. People are fed up with the political dance around marijuana and it’s starting to show.
With Olympians getting banned from participating in the world’s greatest sports spectacle, to college athletes getting suspended, we need to take another look at why we are testing athletes for a drug that is far less harmful than everything they are actually permitted to consume, namely booze and prescription pills. Marijuana is the safer alternative. It’s time the sports community starts recognizing this fact.