We have heard many stories of professional athletes abusing drugs and alcohol for recreation, pain management, or for performance enhancement. It seems to come with the territory with lucrative, high profile, high pressure careers. But there is really no excuse for professional athletes to use drugs or alcohol. By becoming public figures, they are stepping into the limelight and should act as role models for young people who look up to them. It’s hopeful that athletes will play a part in helping to teach kids that drugs are not cool and that they should stay away from them.
Some very famous and influential athletes have died, gotten busted, or experienced negative consequences for drug use.
- Michael Phelps – After 8 Olympic Gold Medals, swimmer Phelps lost his endorsement with Kelloggs for smoking pot.
- Derek Boogaard died from mixing oxycodone and alcohol.
- Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose two days after being drafted by the Celtics.
- Nate Newton spent two and a half years in a federal prison for marijuana after making it to 6 Pro Bowls.
- Olympic athlete Pelle Lindebergh died by driving his car into a wall while drunk.
- Roy Tarpley was expelled from the NBA for cocaine use and excessive drinking in 1995.
- Steve Howe was the first MLB player to be banned from the league for drug use.
- Leonard Little went to jail for killing a woman while drunk driving.
- Dan Rogers of the Cleveland Browns died from a cocaine overdose a week before his wedding.
We Need More Positive Role Models
With so many bad role models, we need more athletes like Matt Mayberry from the Chicago Bears. Mayberry addressed a crowd of over 3,000 student about the importance of living a productive and drug free life. We warned about peer pressure and negative influence and reiterated the importance of staying active and busy and avoiding drugs and alcohol.
During the same event, Luther Head and Bobby Simmons from the NBA stated how they never would have achieved their dreams if they had used drugs. When they were going through hard times, they turned to their family for support rather than to drugs.
The event was put together by an organization called Athletes Against Drugs, a Chicago-based organization the encourages drug-free lifestyles and provides sports programs for at risk youth in the area. These kinds of platforms are great opportunities for professional athletes to get a positive message across to youths.