By Joe Yamulla || Sports Editor
The 2015-2016 academic year is finally underway. The start of every year comes with policy changes that are made in a constant attempt to improve the College in every way. One of the most controversial changes has been made to F&M’s athletic drug testing policy. Starting this year, F&M will be randomly drug testing their athletes throughout the course of their respective seasons. The new drug testing policy is expensive and contentious, however its driving force and absolute goal is to protect the one aspect of character that F&M believes all of its athletes should embody: integrity.
An athlete is always wearing his or her team colors, even when off the field. Over the years at F&M and other colleges nationwide, and even in professional sports, athletes seem to have forgotten this. Illegal substance and drug use has not only become popular, but mainstream in Division III collegiate athletics. Prior to this school year, F&M followed the traditional Division III drug testing policy, which only enforced screenings if and when a team makes the playoffs. This lenient method of testing led to an unfortunate amount of illegal drug use.
When first glancing at the issues regarding athletes exposing their bodies to substances, many people assume that they’re taking illegal performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). In reality, the issue lies in drugs like marijuana, unprescribed pills, and cocaine. F&M and other colleges have seen their athletes mistreat their bodies and disrespect their teams and the sport they play with such behaviors.
After speaking with several athletes on campus regarding the new drug testing policy, many have the same simple question: Why? Many wonder why F&M is implementing a system that is only expected of Division I programs, and they are absolutely right to raise these questions.
These drugs and paraphernalia do not do a single thing to benefit an athlete’s performance. No athlete is cheating by doing this. Instead, the drugs harm their bodies and cause the athletes to perform at a lower standard than they would without them. Illegal substances harm every aspect of an athlete, and represent an image that is harmful to him or her, and of course an image that is malicious to the college itself.
Whether you love them or not, sports are a huge component of not only American culture, but also culture around the world. Athletes are constantly placed in the spotlight, and have the ability to be the face of a city, country, and of course, a school. F&M has been and will always be an institution that takes great pride in its reputation of being a hard working environment where students respect themselves and those around them.
The Diplomats may not have as big of a name as the massive state programs, but their actions still go a long way. If F&M athletes are partaking in activities that are harmful to themselves, they’re indirectly harming the school. This drug rehab center says , if F&M allows its athletes to continue these behaviors without finding a constructive and fair way to end them, it would inevitably lose its reputation as a highly-regarded institution.
Regardless how you view these changes, it is undeniable that athlete performance and school respectability will improve. Sports and education are a full-time commitment. In order to achieve and be respected at the highest level, the commitment requires sacrifice.
Whether he or she likes it or not, every student-athlete on campus who previously experimented with drug use at F&M will have to sacrifice it or risk losing their dreams of being a collegiate athlete.
The sanctions for one-time drug use include a 180 day suspension and a difficult process of reclaiming eligibility. Second instances lead to a permanent team suspension. F&M is not going lightly on this policy, and whether you love it or hate it, it’s here to stay in order to maintain the integrity of its athletes and the entire student body.