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December 19, 2014

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Ron Kantowski knows Green Valley High’s heart is true, but realizes drug testing is not a magic bullet for schools

Parents cheer, students shrug

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Leila Navidi

Chris Franz of Sport Safe explains drug testing procedures Wednesday during a community meeting on Green Valley High School’s new random testing program for student-athletes.

So I’m sitting in the back of the Green Valley High theater listening to some guy from Ohio describe random drug testing of high school athletes molecule by molecule when a giant 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew pops up on the PowerPoint presentation screen. And the guy from Ohio says with a face straighter than a county road in West Texas that student-athletes should not try to substitute Mountain Dew for their urine specimen because if they do, they will get popped faster than a balloon in a thumbtack factory.

Quick, somebody call Roger Clemens before it’s too late.

Beginning on Jan. 28, Green Valley High School will start pulling athletes out of class to determine what, if anything, they’re putting into their bodies besides Code Red and Quarter Pounders with Cheese.

Alcohol. Barbiturates. LSD. MDMA (Ecstasy). Phencyclidine (PCP). Amphetamines. Benzodiazepines. Marijuana metabolites. Nicotine. Propoxyphene. Anabolic steroids. Cocaine metabolites. Methadone. Opiates.

No, it isn’t Lindsay Lohan’s Things to Do list. It’s the list of things that will get you suspended for six weeks when Green Valley begins testing its athletes and cheerleaders for drugs.

It’s a good thing Tim Riggins, the conflicted star of the critically acclaimed “Friday Night Lights” TV series, doesn’t play football at Green Valley, because Riggins would have transferred from Dillon to arch-rival Larrabee and the show wouldn’t be nearly as interesting.

It’s also a good thing they didn’t have random drug testing in 1975 because my school had a lot of guys like Tim Riggins, and I am quite certain we would have had to forfeit at least half, if not three-quarters, of every football, basketball and baseball season because of warm Old Style beer and Marlboros in crush-proof boxes.

But I applaud Jeff Horn, the Green Valley principal, for trying to make a difference. Last year, a Gators baseball player was caught possessing black tar heroin, which is a little more serious than barefoot girls sitting on the hood of a Dodge and drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain, or however Bruce Springsteen put it.

Besides all those long words that end with “ine” for things that are bad for you, I also learned from Horn’s PowerPointer that a high school in New Jersey not Springsteen’s and Ball State say drug testing their athletes has been successful and they have the figures to prove it. Although, based on Ball State’s 52-30 drubbing at the hands of Rutgers in the International Bowl, I am sure there are Cardinals fans who will tell you random drug testing is overrated.

But not once during the hour-and-45-minute presentation and question and answer session did Horn or anybody else on the dais allude to any of the negatives of such a program, with the exception that it’s going to cost a lot of money to carry out.

One of the parents in the audience must have done the same Google search I did, because she pointed out that aside from Ball State and Tony Soprano Vocational, she could not find concrete proof that mandatory drug testing works. She suggested the school spend the money on a substance abuse counselor, who could educate the Gators’ fullbacks and point guards about the evils of drug use, rather than punish them for it first.

I actually thought I heard boos after she was done speaking. But maybe they were just chanting “Goose,” in honor of Rich Gossage, the newest member of baseball’s Hall of Fame.

“I’m not naive enough to think it’s going to be a cure-all,” Horn responded to the Voice of Reason. “But I think it’s a step in the right direction.”

The 250 other parents cheered wildly, which would have been cool had it not sounded like they were trying to shout down that one parent for pointing out there was another side to this issue.

The most surprising thing about the meeting was few athletes were in attendance, which might lead one to believe the problem isn’t as widespread as the administrators made it out to be, or that the fullbacks and point guards were home scouring the Internet for masking agents or a 2-liter jug of Mountain Dew.

Afterward, I approached a kid in a Green Valley letterman’s jacket and his buddy and an older guy, who turned out to be the first kid’s dad. I told them I didn’t want to know their names so they could speak freely. Then I asked what impact they thought the drug testing program would have.

None, the kids basically said. They said the majority of athletes at Green Valley don’t drink or smoke or do those drugs that end with “ine.” And the ones who do will continue to do so, because odds are they won’t get caught anyway, considering there are 800 athletes in the database and only 30 or so will be chosen to test at a time, and that The Clear (an anabolic steroid) works better than Cialis and an empty bathtub.

The kid’s dad? He agreed the administration’s heart is in the right place, but thinks his size 9 1/2 boot would be more effective in discouraging his son to imitate Tim Riggins than any random drug test.

I have to admit that back in the day, when everybody was getting on my case from my teacher down to my best girlfriend, at times I thought about meeting the boys on floor No. 2.

So my advice to the Green Valley players would be that if you don’t want to listen to your parents or your teachers and aren’t fond of urinating in a test tube, then at least listen to Brownsville Station.

Because everybody knows that smokin’ ain’t allowed in school.

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