Dueling columns: Steroid testing in Texas high schools

Doing away with steroid testing too risky

After just 11 positives out of 28,934 tests since last year, the University Interscholastic League is considering cutting back on steroid testing.

Scaling down testing in high school sports in Texas is a terrible idea.

Sure the testing program costs $6 million, but can you put a price on the safety and future of our high school athletes?

In case you don’t know the possible side effects of steroids, here are just a few, according to www.anabolic-bible.org: acne, aggression, anaphylactic shock, birth defects, blood clotting, cardiovascular disease, depression, hair loss, high blood pressure and possibly the least pleasant, testicular atrophy.

As much as I love sports and as much as I want to see the best product on the field, I would rather see these youngsters thrive in life instead of hitting a couple extra home runs or running faster sprints.

There are too many risk factors and too much peer pressure on these young athletes to not continue to test the athletes as frequently as they are now.

While the UIL feels like it has done enough to save the integrity of the sports, this is about much more than the game.

Kids turn on ESPN everyday and hear about athletes like New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman testing positive for steroids and they begin to think they might have to do the same thing one day if they to become a big-name athlete.

As of right now, we only know the short-term effects of steroids. One day we will learn about their long-term effects and if they are anything as bad as what we have seen in the short term. We need to get these kids off the juice now and save their future.

Right now, the UIL has shown that high school athletes are pretty much clean. Let’s just hope it doesn’t cut back on its testing and instead ends up keeping its conscience as clean as the players’.

Billy Wessels is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Waxahachie.

Few positives not worth exorbitant cost of testing

In 2007, the state of Texas instituted a $6 million program for testing male and female high school athletes for steroids. The program will aim to test 50,000 students by the end of this school year.

Last Friday, the University Interscholastic League released its second round of test results from the program. A test of nearly 19,000 students yielded just seven positive results for steroid use. The first round of results, which tested around 10,000 students, caught just four high school athletes.

The results may surprise some, but we’re talking about 16-, 17- and 18-year-old athletes. Gaining a competitive advantage in high school sports is the least of their worries, and the results prove that point. If you’re good at a sport in high school, you know it. In most cases, it’s only when athletes reach higher levels of competition that they begin searching for an edge on the competition.

The math is simple – almost 30,000 tests, 11 positive results. That’s less than .04 percent, folks.

Now, divide the $6 million cost of the program by the number of positives. So far, the state of Texas has spent $545,454.55 per positive test.

That’s an outrageous sum of money to be spending on something that appears to be a non-issue.

The State of Texas could be spending the $6 million on a worthwhile cause like creating jobs and bolstering the education system, especially during these uncertain economic times. Testing high school students for steroids should be the least of our state’s worries.

At least be fair to the athletes and test all high schoolers for all illegal substances. That would probably yield some interesting positive results.

The steroid problem has certainly left its mark on the current era of sports, but not at the high school level. The steroid testing program is proving to be a total failure and a complete waste of money and it should be scaled back or done away with as soon as possible.

Sports editor Michael Carroll is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Coppell.

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