On Tuesday approximately 114 million Americans exercised their fundamental right to vote but in addition to selecting our next Commander-in-Chief in several states Americans were left to decide on an issue that may be of great interest to the NCAA, NFL, NBA, MLB and other professional sports franchises played in the United States. The issue that I am speaking of is the use of marijuana which was legalized for recreational use in Colorado and Washington. Both of these states are home to the BIG 3 in pro sports as well as college programs with ties to the BCS.
Each of the three major sports industries have stiff penalties for their players if they test positive for using banned and or illegal substances.The NCAA also has issued stiff penalties to its players for testing positive and being found with a banned substance in their possession. A number of players with promising professional careers have found themselves dismissed from their schools and out of the league due to their addiction to marijuana. However the legalization of marijuana poses an interesting dilemma for the universities and sports franchises in these two states.
In light of this new law will these billion dollar sports franchises make the necessary changes and align with these new laws? Although it is unlikely that these professional sports leagues would ever make a state by state exception the thought of a player being suspended or dismissed from a college for smoking marijuana in a state where its legal would open a petrie dish of problems that no commissioner would want to deal with. I can already envision the NFL or MLB players associations challenging such suspensions causing a media frenzy of momentous proportion.
The struggles of students with promising professional futures has been well documented and frequently made headline news: Tyrann Mathieu of LSU, Da’Rick Rogers of UT, Greg Reid of Florida State, Michael Dyer of Auburn, Isiah Crowell of UGA. These talented players seemed destined to shake the hand of the commissioner after being drafted in the NFL but due to their addiction to marijuana a pro career for some of them already appears highly unlikely.
In the world of recruiting where coaches are always trying to get an edge I wonder in the states where the use of marijuana is legal will recruiters use this to their advantage to get 5 star players to sign with their schools? Although many would consider such a ploy to be unethical some may consider it no worst than giving the prospect money or buying their family a house. The world of recruiting is a ruthless business where nice guys always finish last so any advantage is always maximized. However, such a recruiting ploy would require these institutions of higher learning and the NCAA to revise drug testing policies.
At the moment the legalization of marijuana for recreational use is a problem that the sports industries and the NCAA can ignore but if more states begin to change their policies the time may come where the world of sports would be forced to follow suit. Two dominoes fell on election night and I am sure that the NCAA, NFL, NBA, and MLB took notice. Will the other 48 eventually follow suit? In the realm of sports there will never be a boring moment. Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark (like my fan page on facebook @Eat Drink Sleep Sportz)