Professional consequences for personal choices

Choice is something Americans like to pride themselves with. There are good choices and bad choices. So, what prevents people from making a bad choice? In life, there are consequences for bad choices. These consequences are established everywhere, but  consequences for athletes pull the focus today.

With recent high profile cases, like Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, policies and consequences have been at the forefront of American conversation. These conversations, reflect back to the high school. Should these consequences be reevaluated to increase the penalty to prevent future disregard for rules? Or do students need to be educated that these policies are  there for a reason, and educate people on the very real consequences?

Each season, Minnesota high school athletes sign an eligibility statement with the Minnesota State High School League. This agreement lists out the general rules and various consequences that students are bound by for their four years of high school.  Magnet extended a survey to randomly selected fall athletes at  OHS. The results showed that a significant amount of these athletes did not believe the consequences were enough to prevent them from violating the policy.

The Magnet survey also showed that the general population of fall athletes do not violate any of the rules of the MSHSL policy. Of the 31 players who returned the survey, only three admitted to violating the general rules of the MSHSL policy including underage drinking and use of illegal drugs during their season. So, why do people break this policy? Is it because the consequences are not extreme enough or because they do not know the dangers on their body?

I don’t think the kids in our school understand the dangers and downfalls of using drugs or alcohol

— Ryan Swanson

OHS Athletic Director, Ryan Swanson, thinks it is the latter. “I don’t think the kids in our school understand the dangers and downfalls of using drugs or alcohol,” Swanson said. As many students heard from John Underwood, director and founder of Life of an Athlete, Swanson would like to remind everyone of the bodily consequences of breaking the MSHSL policy. “If you go out drinking on a Saturday night, it is going to take you up to 96 hours to recover. It strips you of vitamins, and it is going to take you 90 hours to just get back to full pace. That’s Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and into Wednesday that you are losing days you could be getting better.”

Many athletes do not know the bodily consequences of breaking this policy. Swanson and MSHSL are proposing a new plan for educating student athletes. After a student gets in trouble, this new proposal would require them to take an online class on the dangers of breaking these policies before returning to their sport. Swanson said, “If kids knew [the dangers], they would be less likely to go out and binge drink.”

Through the media, choices made by professional athletes result in consequences for their actions, high schoolers are no exception. Some consequences they can face instead of sitting out are probation, jail and fines.

See the rest of our survey results here: