Drug Testing of Student Athletes

Essay by andybell15College, UndergraduateA+, November 2004

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Drug abuse is a major problem in our society as a whole and increasingly within our youth. In recent years, many school districts have implemented student athlete drug testing programs within their schools. Athletes were targeted because student athletics are voluntary and the "athletes are often held to higher standards than other students, keeping their grades up for example" (Tantillo, Wen & Morgo, 1995, p. A22).

"The issue of drug testing has caused a national debate that still persists. The debate hinges on the right to privacy of the athlete and whether such testing is constitutional under the U.S. Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure" (Siedentop, 1998, p. 149). This issue has been presented in front of many courts, resulting in different rulings.

A student athlete drug testing case, in an Oregon school district, resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court hearing. In the Vernonia school district all student athletes, between the grades of seven and twelve, were required to participate in the drug testing policy.

According to Phelps at the Washington Bureau (1995), the mandatory urinalysis required boys to provide samples at urinals, with teachers watching from behind, while girls had teachers listening outside stalls as they provided their samples in private. Drug education seminars or suspension from the team for two athletic seasons were the consequences that one faced if their test result was positive.

One seventh grader, James Acton, disagreed with this policy and refused to submit a urine sample. Acton's defiance resulted in his being thrown off of the football team. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, Acton and his parents filed a suit, claiming that James' Fourth Amendment rights were being violated. The Supreme Court's 6-3 decision ruled against the Actons, finding that "public schools plagued with drug use among...