Another High School Athletic Program Toughens Code Surrounding Athletes, Alcohol & Drugs

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  A detailed picture of bottles of beer before Super Bowl XLIII between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

It appears my two articles, Current High School Athletic Codes: Are You Aware They Have Changed? and Teens, Athletes, Parents, and Drinking: What's a Parent To Do?, have come to life in Connecticut where local news reports on similar issues in their piece, Stonington proposal tightens athlete alcohol, drug policy.

Stonington High School is moving toward an athletic code policy mirroring what we now have in many Chicago area suburban schools, that participating in gatherings where alcohol and drinking are taking place (whether the athlete is involved or not) is in violation and brings with it certain consequences.

The new proposed policy, and discipline, applies year-round and includes photos and videos of student athletes in violation regardless of whether the student athlete is on or off campus.

This is a big departure from their current athletic code which focuses on the use of alcohol or drugs on campus and/or at school-sponsored events.

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According to the article, the existing policy "means a student drinking at school dance would be disciplined, but one arrested for driving under the influence or underage drinking on the weekend currently would be immune from discipline."

On the other hand, the new proposed policy specifies: "If Stonington High School athletes are at a party where people are drinking or using illegal drugs, they would have to leave. If not, they could be suspended from their team and subject to other discipline even if they were not drinking or using drugs."

The proposed policy also includes an explanation as to the thought process behind such a change stating "...that participation in extracurricular activities is a privilege and not a right. It adds that negative or inappropriate behavior by students can affect the integrity and perception of teams by other students and the public."

What I find most interesting, something you may also find intriguing, are the variety of points made in the comment section at the end of this article. They span the gamut of thought from one end of the spectrum to the other regarding whether student athletes should be held to a higher standard than others, coaches would support such a policy if they would lose their "star" athlete, the school has any rights to govern behavior outside of the school confines, the captain's team apology for retribution (something I find bewildering), and a host of others.

So what's your take?

Is Stonington headed in the right direction?

Do you think that coaches' hands are tied (as pointed out in this article) when a policy only governs use and/or on-campus violations as Stonington's current policy stands?

What do you think should be done about the rampant hard "partying" many a high school athlete engages in even though they have signed a code stating that they won't?

Chicagoland speak up, give us your thoughts.

All comments welcome!!!


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  • Kirk,

    I think they are headed in the right direction. I think one of the hardest things all teenagers face is peer pressure, most people realize and understand this. I think it is very hard for students to leave a party, where alchol is being served. I think students have an easier time saying no to drinking. I do think however, that athletes understand when they are on a team they have a responsibility to do the right thing all the time. Difficult at times, but worth it in the end.

    Here in Illinois I think the athlete code has been pretty much the same since the late 80's, at least it was similar to when I was in high school. I think one major differnce has occured.
    The use of technology - ease of taking pictures at parties. When I was in high school no one was caring a camera to any of the parties. Yes people would say so and so was at a party and was drinking. It then came down to one persons word against anothers with no proof, such as pictures. So basically the only way to get caught at a party was if the police raided the party and took your ID. This did not happen to often and when it did, the smart people, ran right by the police.

    Technology has brought proof to a problem that has occurred in high school for ever - underage drinking. That is really the main difference with athletic codes today and athletic codes way back - proof -- not one persons words against anothers.

  • Hey Kris,

    Thanks for your response. These are all great points. However, the athletic code at our school was changed not that long ago. Say in the last 10 years. And when I was an athlete in high school you could be at a party with alcohol as long as you personally where not using. The difference with most codes in our area is the transfer from guilty because of use (former) and guilty because of association (more common today).

    And yes, technology has sure made it easier to prove guilt. But the big question for me is how so many can sign that code and so easily go against their own word. Sure, peer pressure is a big factor, however, many don

  • Don't get me stared on people signing something and not giving it a second thought. Unfortunately that is our society - Start with politicians to catholic priests. There are people in our society including high school athletes that simply don't appreciate trust, character, and doing things the right way all the time. I think the biggest reason athletes sign it is because if they don't they can't play. They sign it and think if they break the code they won't get caught.

    How about this - why don't schools have no tolerence athletic code. If you are caught drinking, using drugs, or at parties with alchol and drugs your high school career is over. Our society is to forgiving.

  • Great points all!!!

  • Kirk,

    Enjoyed reading your take and the original piece. As a former coach I find it hard to believe that the coaches have no discipline options. The larger point would be the pressure that would come from parents and the community because you were going beyond the distict policy. I believe that a strict code is a positive, but I am not a fan of mandatory minimums. While they make things very black and white in the punishment phase, but you also have your hands tied and circumstances often are grey and merit deliberation. The key is not strict sets of consequences, but rather consistent application of the possible options.

  • Kolson,

    Thanks for chiming in. Great response.

    I think the feelings they have regarding "no discipline options" centers more on the

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