Volume 93, Issue 53
Thursday, December 2, 1999
Books, sports and drugs don't mix
By Sean Maraj
Few people would disagree that student athletes are loaded with both pressure and responsibility. Getting away from the books and the field, therefore, becomes important so athletes can unwind and release their stress.
However, where is the limit to partying too much? And how far can the team intervene before the unwinding has gone too far? What happens when someone on a team starts smoking up?
Although it's a tough question, the general consensus is most teams don't have strict policies towards dealing with these kind of situations.
"It's not the overall atmosphere we like to have. We have fun, but it's clean," said Jenn Symmes, captain of the field hockey team, on how her team tries to deal with this situation. "We can't afford to be out of reality. It's understood that it doesn't go on our team. It's not something we tolerate."
For many teams playing at Western, peer pressure is often the best and only way to enforce any kind of restriction on athletes involving themselves in drugs. The pressure of not letting your teammates down is often the biggest factor in ensuring stressed out student athletes don't take things too far.
"We don't have any strict policy," said Craig Ridout, captain of the men's volleyball team. "It's not looked highly upon. There's no testing or regulation. There are times when you can't control what people do, but everyone has a common goal and that's to win."
Symmes also pointed out her team's drug policy rests upon the same pressure of not letting your team down.
"We are a close knit team if you've been out the night [before] drinking and smoking, everything you do wrong is your own fault," Symmes said.
Ridout agreed with Symmes and preferred to use the responsibility to the team as pressure to keep his teammates from partying too hard. However, Ridout said he was also prepared to take action if a teammate's actions jeopardized the team's play. "If it became an issue where it was affecting his play and grades, I would approach him on a one to one basis," he said.
However, Ridout said this walks a thin line when it comes to deciding when it is an issue affecting the team or the individual's personal life.
Glen Belfry, head coach of the Western swimming team, said he enforces a strict policy where the team is concerned. "It doesn't happen as far as that's concerned because it's illegal," he said.
"I would talk to the person, but I'm not going to send them to jail. It's something that's never happened before," Belfry said. "It's a sensitive question, how much impact can you have on people's personal lives."
Copyright © The Gazette 1999