Colorado High School Football: What should be done about Anabolic Steroids?<br />I grew up playing football. I started at the age of six and played until I got to high school. I was never the biggest kid on the field, not by a long shot. Naturally, as I got older, the players kept getting bigger and bigger. By the time I was done playing football after my eight grade year I realized it was not wise for me to stay in the game. I was just too small. I would look at those high school football players and think that I would not survive. Now, these players are even bigger. As I went through high school I was still friends with many of my former teammates who were now playing football in high school. I had heard from them that anabolic steroids were being used by a handful of the players on the team. Anabolic steroid use has reached high school football. <br />We all agree that there is no place for anabolic steroids in high school football. In a time where the young athletes are still developing it is even more dangerous for them to be using anabolic steroids. Not only do players who take these substances endanger themselves they also are putting other players in danger as well. If another player on the field is much stronger than the rest than there is a chance that he could injure one of the others. <br />High school football is typically as pure of football as you can get. The players are very fundamentally sound, they play as hard as they can and they play for the love of the game. Anabolic steroids taint this purity and are not good for the sport either. It would be devastating for high school football players if anabolic steroids hit main stream at this level. <br />As of right now, all CHSAA (Colorado High School Activities Association) has in terms of steroid prevention in the coaching manual is a one page memo regarding the worry about anabolic steroid use in high school athletes and a list of a few of the side effects for coaches to look for. This is not enough. There is very much that needs to be done here.<br />High school football coaches in Colorado should educate their players about the use of anabolic steroids. They should educate them about the dangers of taking anabolic steroids and reiterate that practicing harder, lifting more, and working harder are the ways to improve themselves on the field.<br />The coaches should be the one educating the players not teachers, not administrators; it needs to be the coaches for a couple of reasons. First, the coaches themselves may not be educated about anabolic steroids. Football coaches are extremely intense individuals, I know this from my playing days, and some might actually support the use of anabolic steroids. Second, they see their players more often than anyone else, including their parents. If they are educated about the signs of steroid use then they can help. Finally, coaches should educate their players about anabolic steroid use because they are seen by many players as role models and authority figures. As a player, if one of your role models told you that steroid use was bad and told you why, wouldn’t you listen? In addition, if someone told you that you shouldn’t do steroids and that person controlled whether or not you play, wouldn’t you listen?<br />The coaches wouldn’t have to come up with the entire curriculum themselves either. There are many steroid prevention programs already out there. I suggest that CHSAA implement the ATLAS program.<br />ATLAS stands for Athletes Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids. This program first focuses on changing the athlete’s attitude toward steroids and then shifts into changing their workout and nutritional habits as a better way of getting bigger and stronger. In this program coaches and selected players lead the discussions. There are seven different sessions, each lasting 45 minutes. There is minimal preparation needed to implement this program as well. It is suggested that the team does one session per week on a “soft” practice day. These days are typically the day after games and usually consist of watching tape or going over plays. So it wouldn’t cut into much practice time at all. The program emphasizes healthy habits in for their sports career. <br />Dr. Linn Goldberg, the developer of the program, intends for the program to be student-led. The coaches will open and close each session while the players will work together doing a variety of activities. These include making raps, singing songs, writing newspaper articles and playing games. "
Football players are athletes; they like to compete,” says Dr. Goldberg. For this reason his program suggests that the team be split up into groups for these activities and compete with each other. This would cater towards the players competitive juices while also allowing them another opportunity to bond. <br />A study was done on thirty-one high schools around Portland, Oregon to test the effectiveness of this program. 1,500 high school football players were tested. Roughly half of the players went through the ATLAS program, while the other half were just given brochures that talked briefly about the dangers of anabolic steroids. These studies showed that athletes who went through the program knew more about the benefits of exercise and nutrition. They also were more aware of the negative effects of steroids. These athletes also showed unfavorable attitudes toward other’s steroid use and showed a lesser intent to use steroids. They also knew more about proper weight-lifting and strength-conditioning techniques. This shows how effective this program can be.<br />The program also has a parent component to it as well. They are given a nutritional guide and are highly encouraged to help their young athlete get in the best shape possible without the use of anabolic steroids. By getting both the coaches and parents involved in this process, the program allows the two most influential people in the player’s life to play a part in preventing the use of this nasty product. <br />I suggest this as opposed to random steroid testing because this is expensive and the number of high school football players in the state is very large. Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey now have random steroid testing programs in place for high school athletes. The state of Florida had one as well but ultimately decided that the $100,000 price tag was too high. Texas is paying somewhere in the ballpark of $3,000,000 for their program every year. A number of other states have rejected a testing program. <br />I love the game of football but when it is pure it is best. If CHSAA implements the ATLAS program, these high school football players will be much better off. They will know more about the effects of anabolic steroids and the dangers they bring as well as proper training and nutritional techniques that can help them be better athletes. <br />