Recently, four Rays minor league players, including top prospects Josh Sale and Ryan Brett, were each suspended 50 games for using methamphetamine, more popularly known as meth. Each have defended themselves on various levels, but there is still an important question left to ask: why would such talented athletes even consider using meth? To help answer that question, we’re glad to have Lily Robinson, who has written about addiction, its affects, and how to deal with it at various places across the internet, with us for a guest article. Her thoughts on the issue are below.
Methamphetamine in Modern Sports
Many people would agree that recreational drug use is inexcusable. Even those who regularly take drugs for relaxation and stimulation would struggle to justify their actions completely. It is seen as representative of the disgusting underbelly of society. In TV and film, the use of drugs such as methamphetamine (meth) is used as a tool to display the user as undesirable. The news of respected athletes using such a drug is disappointing and disillusioning.
Considered to primarily be the domain of the down and out, the unsuccessful, the flea bitten and hopeless, meth has acquired a deservedly negative reputation. However in recent years meth has made its way into the recreational life of professionals, successful individuals and athletes.
This has recently been in the news after a number of Tampa Bay Rays minor league players were banned for use of meth. Outfielder Josh Sale, second baseman Ryan Brett and pitchers Charlie Cononie and Justin Woodall will all miss their next 50 games after a positive drug test revealed the use of meth. Why would they have done it? There has to be reasons for athletes rich in potential and promise to risk it all on a drug whose only guarantees are headaches, dizziness, dry mouth, diarrhea, insomnia, hallucinations and paranoia among many, many other negative effects!
Few professions have as much pressure attached to it as the world of professional sports. While a lot of careers are focused toward being number one and staying ahead of the competition, few have such a definite scale and measure of success and failure. Similarly, other than sports no professions include direct competition in the same manner. Coming face to face with your competitors on a regular basis. Not only does the opposition fall under the term competitor, but also teammates and allies can be considered the competition as any team and squad only ever has a finite number of places and roles to fill.
Most professional athletes have pursued the career for the vast majority of their lives in an almost obsessive manner. Living, breathing and eating the sport that they love and excel at, by the time they reach the peak of the sport and their abilities, many find themselves totally surrounded by the sport. This can either inspire the individual or daunt them.
When confronted by the unceasing stress of professional sports, many athletes will seek a source of support or a way to escape. This is where recreational drugs can become alluring and attractive. They may use it to blank out and forget their careers and pressures. The lack of control is also attractive to the blossoming drug user. Athletes need to be constantly in control; conscious of their every action. Escapist drugs allow this responsibility to diminish for a short time albeit in a faked fashion.
The best way for people whether or not they are a famed athlete to cope with stresses is to confide in others. The support of others can help people relieve their anxieties, troubles and stresses in a much healthier fashion. The trust of somebody who shares your love can help you embrace your situation rather than try and escape it with a method such as recreational drug use. However, that can be more difficult for professional athletes, who spend half the time on the road and away from their families.
A lot of people, athletes or otherwise, enjoy the freedom of having a vice, whether or not it is legal, healthy or attractive. There are many different types of these releases. Athletes in particular are expected to live their lives according to a strict set of rules and regulations that are set upon them from an early age. An act of rebellion can be a source of relief for the individuals in question.
Many athletes have missed out on a social life during their teen years. Those are the years where most men and women who will eventually become professional athletes are taking their first steps into the world of sports and are more careful than ever, especially compared to a lot of their peers. That can create repercussions later in life. The teenage and young adult years are often used by many as a time to relax and experiment and without those years, the temptation to experiment can continue to persist years later. Remember that both Sale and Brett were drafted right out of high school and had been scouted by major league teams for years before that. Both would only be starting their junior year of college right now had they not gone pro.
Quite often, sports fans will forget that their favorite players are first and foremost human beings. They need the support of those around them and their fans. While not condoning their actions, fans do not need to condemn them personally. Did these four players make an enormous mistake? Yes. But we have to remember just how young they are and what the temptation was like for us at that age. Hopefully Sale, Brett, Cononie, and Woodall can rehabilitate themselves so that this never becomes a problem for them again. Whatever reason they did this, whether to escape or just to experiment, they have now seen the ramifications of their actions and hopefully they will be able to live the right way as they pursue their dreams of playing in the major leagues someday.