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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Argumentative Essay on Mandatory Drug Testing in the NFL

Argumentative Essay on Mandatory Drug Testing in the NFL

            Is there a middle ground between privacy rights and public policy? The question is asked in the light of the mandatory testing being conducted amongst professional athletes in the NFL.  One of the problems in sports nowadays is the increasing number of professional athletes that have been found positive for performance-enhancing drugs.  Though the drug problem among athletes is still not widespread, there is a perception that the drug problem is becoming worse because most of the athletes found positive for illegal drugs are famous.  As a result, there is now a public perception that all athletes take performance-enhancing drugs.  The public thinks that it is normal for athletes to take performance-enhancing drugs and that an athlete will not perform well if he does not take these banned substances. 
In order to respond to these grown drug problem among athletes, in 2007, the NFL and its players union have agreed to more extensive testing for performance-enhancing drugs (AP Online 1).  It has also extended its testing to EPO, a blood boosting substance, among its list of banned substances (AP Online 1).  In addition, the NFL now conducts random drug testing for steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs of 10 players for each team who are randomly selected (AP Online 1).  Any player who tests positive for banned substances is imposed a punishment of four-game suspension for the player’s first offense and a one-year suspension for the player’s second offense.
            On one hand, drug abuse is a serious problem which is the responsibility of the whole community.  The problem of drug affects not only professional athletes but also celebrities, politicians and even students.  Because the NFL players serve as role models for the youth, it is important that associations such as the NBA, NFL, and the NHL must have a strong policy against drugs.  
            On the other hand, professional athletes, even if they are getting paid huge sums of money by their own league, are entitled to their constitutional rights.  One of these rights is the right to privacy which is recognized by the Supreme Court.  Opponents of mandatory drug testing argue that the collection and testing of urine intrudes upon expectations of privacy that is protected under the Fourth Amendment.  

Arguments in favor of Mandatory Drug Testing
One of the arguments against mandatory drug testing is constitutionally infirmed (Al Kamen 1).  Those against mandatory drug tests argue that the collection and testing of urine is an intrusion to the public’s privacy rights (USA Today 1).  It is their contention that these tests are similar to actions of law enforcement offices in which the law requires them to secure search warrant before they search for evidence inside a person’s house.  Their argument however is not convincing. 
In the first place, the conduct of mandatory drug testing among professional athletes is not being imposed by the state.  It is the policy of private associations like NFL and NBA.  Secondly, the results of the mandatory drug testing are not made pursuant to an investigation conducted by law enforcement authorities.  Even if the result is positive for some players the same will not be turned over to the police for purpose of criminal prosecution.  Thirdly, athletes who do not want to undergo drug testing have complete freedom not to undergo drug testing.  They can simply resign from NFL, or even the NBA.  It bears stressing that at the time these athletes sign their contracts, they have been informed of the rules of their own league.  They knew beforehand that they will have to under drug testing but despite the same they accepted their huge paychecks.  They cannot accept only those policies that are favorable to them and reject those that are not.
            Mandatory drug testing is one of the more effective means of ensuring that the professional athletes are protected against the dangers of these illegal drugs.  It must be stressed that the society should not solely blame the athletes for taking performance-enhancing drugs.  Most of the time it is not the athlete’s fault for taking these banned substances.  In the spirit of competition and the athletes’ desire to become stronger, faster, and bigger, they may be blinded by the drugs’ temporary benefits.  Because of the pressure to win coming from an athlete’s coach, peers, the media and by today’s society, athletes may succumb to the temptations of these performance-enhancing drugs thinking that there is nothing wrong with it because his competitors are taking it as well.  The athletes’ intense desire to win may cause them to be blind to the harmful effects of these drugs. 
Athletes may become oblivious to its dangers these drugs may cause to their health.  It bears stressing that while these drugs boost strength, they however can lead to heart attacks, strokes, cancer, sterility and mood swings.  (Howard Fendrich 3) One of the latest athletes to suffer death because of usage of these performance-enhancing drugs is Chris Benoit, a professional wrestler.  It is clear that the state cannot solve this problem alone.  The NFL, NBA and other professional leagues must take their part in fighting this drug problem otherwise more athletes will either die from use of these banned substances or suffer debilitating injuries in the future.   

The drug problem is not the fight of the law enforcement officers alone.  Everyone must take his share to fight the drug problem.  The parents, the teachers, school administrators, the coaches – the whole society must take a proactive role in fighting the drug problem.  It is a good thing that the professional athletes have decided to participate in fighting this problem.  Athletes are supposed to be role models for the youth.  They are supposed to be our inspiration.  How can they inspire us when we know that perform well simply because of the drugs they take. 

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