Von Miller has been suspended for the first six games of the upcoming season under the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Miller’s transgressions, while not specifically understood by the press or public, seem to have involved the same types of recreational drugs that non-athletes his age often use to relax and to have fun. He has apparently tested positive for marijuana use on more than one occasion and is also rumored to have taken a derivative of MDMA (or “ecstasy”) known as “molly”. One of these drugs is for chillin’ out and playing FIFA on Xbox while the other is for getting your club on. Neither is allowed by the NFL. Von Miller’s getting caught using these substances has proven to be very costly for him and for the team he plays for.
Miller would be in even bigger trouble if the drugs he took had been intended to improve his performance on the field. As much as the NFL frowns on recreational drug use, it is even more adamant that players not take chemical short cuts when it comes to physical health and conditioning.
Society’s attitudes mirror the NFL’s in terms of which type of drug use is more costly to the integrity of professional sports. Where marijuana use is concerned, most people don’t begrudge athletes its use, so long as they don’t get caught using it. In fact, there’s a general sense that most athletes use it and nobody really seems to care. Use of performance enhancing drugs, however, is considered cheating. People are much less likely to forgive a player who “juices” than they are to look the other way when a player gets high.
Not everybody agrees in the ‘roids vs doobies debate, though. Some folks, like Mile High Sports’ Mark Knudson, believe that steroid and PED use is more innocuous than recreational drug use because the players who juice are doing so for the greater good of their teams while the stoners get high at the team’s peril. Knusdon and his sympathizers see rec drug use as a strictly selfish act with no potentially beneficial outcomes but PED use as a selfless act of physical martyrdom.
Players ingest all kinds of unnatural things with the full blessing of the professional sports leagues; things like anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers in effort to keep them in games and at practices – so where should the line be drawn between what is considered an illegal performance enhancer and what isn’t?
Gone is the era of what we knew as “steroids”. Those drugs have been all but replaced by a host of other chemicals that accomplish similar things but without the obvious side effects, the pimply backs, the rage and the cranial growth. Science has discovered all kinds of new ways to help athletes recover and return to play. Some of these are legal and some of these aren’t – and the differences can be somewhat nebulous to the uninitiated. Some people argue that these advances make the very concept of PEDs a very grey area. Recreational drug use, however, remains mostly a black and white issue…or does it?
While it’s doubtful that Von Miller was motivated to use drugs for anything more than having a good time, there are many legitimate reasons to use marijuana. That’s why many states have authorized the sale of the drug for medicinal purposes. “Weed” is useful in dulling pain, treating anxiety, PTSD and a host of other maladies. For athletes competing in a violent sport like professional football there could be many benefits to the use of marijuana. In that respect Mark Knudson feels that it could be considered a performance enhancer in its own right.
So where do you stand? What angers you more … when players use recreation drugs or when they use performance enhancing drugs? It’s a debate with no simple end in sight.