Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Coaches Turning a blind eye to steroids?

Steroids have always played a role in high school athletics, especially in states that are as deeply rooted in high schools football tradition as Oklahoma and Texas.

Ever since steroids were first introduced to athletics, high school athletes have been using performance-enhancing substances to rapidly build speed, strength, and overall athletic ability.

The pressure to win in these so called "football states" has become so great over the years that even high school coaches have been thought to have blood on their hands. Speculation has led to full scale investigations, as many in the football community are now concerned that coaches are partially responsible for neglecting the steroid problem.

"The pressure absolutely pushes kids to steroids. Parents and coaches push kids to get bigger, faster, and stronger," Donald M. Hooton, founder of the Taylor Hooten foundation said.

In May of 2005, Scott Wayne Moody of Broken Arrow Oklahoma was arrested for selling steroids. Moody, a coach as Tulsa's Webster High School was arrested in a sting operation after police suspected Moody of selling drugs, specifically to high school students. According to documents obtained from the Oklahoma Supreme Court Network, Moody had been selling steroids to Tulsa area athletes and body builders for long enough for police to become very aware of his actions.

"I had no idea how bad it was in Tulsa until my daughter told me," Barry Trammel of NewsOK said. "And I'm a sports writer,"

Moody is part of the minority, having been caught, or even accused of supplying high school athletes with steroids. But many coaches have been accused of applying indirect pressure to athletes by simply encouraging their players to become bigger and stronger.

"Sports are king in this area, especially high school football. Teams play in 20 million dollar stadiums, and coaches can earn in excess of 100 thousand dollars per year if they are successful. The pressure is on everyone involved to win," Hooton said.

Hooton, who believes that his son, Taylor Hooton, committed suicide in July of 2003 due to steroid related causes, said that one of Taylor's baseball coaches encouraged him to get bigger.

"Most [parents and coaches] are unaware how many of the child's peer group is using, and don't realize they are unknowingly pushing their kid or player to use drugs," Hooton said.

The Majority of high school coaches are also not trained to recognize a steroid user or to know what to do with a problem if they find it.

"I'm not trained to be able to tell if a kid is on steroids or not, and I don't think a lot of coaches would be able to tell you either," Norman North Head Football Coach Lance Manning said.

Some high school coaches are less concerned about their athletes having a problem with steroids, and instead are more concerned about other extra curricular activities their players might be involved in.

In an interview with the Dallas Morning News, Plano West Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Mike Hughes stated that he had no knowledge of any Plano West athlete using steroids, and he was much more concerned with high school athletes using recreational drugs and alcohol.

Another factor in the fight against high school steroids is the inability of high schools to perform and afford steroid tests. In fact, the cost of testing is the biggest reason that most Oklahoma high schools do not regularly test their athletes.

When asked about why Norman high schools do not have a system for testing high school athletes for performance enhancing drugs, Manning simply said, "Money."

According to an article from the Tulsa World, certain high schools in Oklahoma actually have methods of testing, but are actually afraid to test students because of the likelihood of a lawsuit.

In February of 2005, 9 football players from Colleyville-Heritage High School in Colleyville, Texas openly admitted to using banned steroids after one boy's mother found steroids hidden in a closet, according to an article from the Associated Press.

Chris Cunningham, Heritage head football coach, denied that his players had ever used steroids. One month later, Cunningham acknowledged a problem with steroids on his football team.

"Nobody's afraid of getting tested because they know the school can't afford it right now," a Colleyville athlete told reporters.

With no easy way to fight the high school steroid problem it is difficult for high schools to investigate and put a stop to athletes that choose to use banned substances. And with advances in technology, students are finding it easier than ever to get their hands on performance enhancing drugs. 

"Go to the Yahoo search engine and put in three search words: buy, steroids, online. That's how easy it is to buy steroids on the internet," Hooton said.

Parents, players and fans are forced to leave the problem up to the coaches and high school administrators to be watchdogs over their respective programs.

"I think there's coaches out there that think it equates to wins. I just try to let these kids know that [coaches] don't need that and players don't need it either. I think that's not why most [coaches] are in this," Manning said. "There's no place for that here."

"The problem is not going away," Dallas Morning News sportswriter Gary Jacobson said.

Although stories often emerge about rings of steroid users in prominent high school football towns, coaches are never found doing wrong, and the majority of the athletes who choose to use steroids never get caught.

Click play to hear Gary Jacobson talk about Dallas coaches addressing steroid issues.

1 comment:

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