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Getting Through to High School Athletes About the Risks of Alcohol

Maybe reading the details of the devastation is the best deterrent of all.

Click on the links. Read the articles. Look at the pictures. Show them to your children. Show them to your high school athletes. Let them read the reactions of the parents, friends, and siblings.    

Let them see the holes that have been left behind in the hearts and the lives of all those people. Let them feel the emotion. Because I’ll tell you – I’ve just spent the past couple of hours reading some of them and I’m in tears. I’m a mess.

So why do kids drink? Why do kids with the best parents on the planet, honor roll grades, and starring roles on their high school teams decide one day to risk it all?

From my research and knowing the policies of many of the local high schools, I know that if a student athlete is in violation of the drug and alcohol policy, he/she is suspended from participating in their sport. The time of the suspension varies. That alone would seem like enough of a hindrance to me.

I don’t pretend to be smart enough to have the answers as to why a kid decides to get plastered one day and risk wrecking his life or the lives of others. You can find those answers in every corner of the Internet.

But I’ll bet my laptop that there are a few of you out there who drove home from happy hour a little tipsy last night. You know better than that, don’t you? You’ve lived double or triple the amount of years as your high school student has. So I guess being smart or educated on the subject might not be enough to stop them either.

I was the kid in high school who never used drugs. And until my senior year, I had never touched alcohol. One night I walked across the neighborhood to a party and got drunk. I didn’t even like beer — still don’t. I got sick in the host’s bathroom and walked home. I sat in my basement in the dark and that’s where my parents found me. I didn’t drink again until I was at least twenty-one.

It was peer pressure for me and it was the first time that I had gone along with what I knew was wrong. I remember saying to my father, “Well now at least I know what it’s like.” So it was curiosity as well.

I realize that I haven’t given you much to work with here. As the parent of adult children, I’m certainly not a newbie to the subject. And now The Boy is in his first year of high school. So after several trips around the board I’m back at GO again (for you Monopoly fans out there).

Mostly I want to pass along how much of an impact it was today to read the stories of student athletes who either died from alcohol poisoning or were involved in accidents while under the influence.

I’m going to sit The Boy down and have him read the words and watch the videos of how one lapse in judgment can ruin a lifetime of hard work. How that lapse in judgment can take, change, and ruin his life and the lives of others.

Then I’m going to wrap my arms around his much larger frame, kiss him on the cheek, and tell him for the 3000th time that everyone makes mistakes. And that my job as a parent is to remind him constantly about the consequences involved.

And then I’ll walk away, secretly wondering if I’ve gotten through to him.

Observor September 28, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Why are you only talking about athletes? Do you think that their lives are more valuable than non-athletes' lives?
Ron Goralski September 28, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Lol! Have you noticed the title of my column? If it was A Scholar Dad's View, I'd talk about scholars. You can read some of my other columns for the answer to your question - if that's indeed the reason for asking it. Thanks.
Robin Hood September 30, 2012 at 02:45 PM
I agree with Observor, too many sports parents and the schools themselves see kids outside of sports as second class citizens, they all count, equally. I for one feel way too much money and time is spent on sports, less than .08% will ever be a pro player, most will need an actual job and other life skills that cheating on the field does not supply. I watch in horror as parents freak at games and kids cleat eachothers hands. Of course if the goal is for them to lie around the tv drinking beer and getting fat while waching sports..... All kids can be affected by alcoholism and other drugs and you should include all, although it does seem that "sports" seem to have a higher incidence of abuse.

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