Game Changers

Among professional athletes, marijuana use is good sportsmanship

By Jasen T. Davis

 

According to the anti-drug website, HYPERLINK “http://www.abovetheinfluence.com”www.abovetheinfluence.com, the risks of marijuana use include impaired motor coordination, problems with memory and learning, lowered motivation and other physical ailments that no athlete would want.

Another website, HYPERLINK “http://www.livestrong.com”www.livestrong.com, declares that smoking marijuana decreases testosterone levels, which means lower muscle mass and growth. The website also claims that because smoking marijuana makes you feel fatigued, you are less likely to work out. If you are an athlete, that’s bad news, too. Or is it? Check out these professionals who prove the propaganda wrong.

MICHAEL PHELPS, OLYMPIC SWIMMER

Mr. Phelps never heard this bad news because he’s a swimmer and an Olympic athlete with more medals than you and all of your friends. He has 16 medals, 14 of which are gold. Muhammad Ali, a pugilist phenom and one of greatest American athletes of all time, only has one gold medal. Think about it. When Mr. Phelps was caught medicating on camera with a water pipe the size of a bazooka, Kellogg’s dropped him from their advertising campaign. Luckily, the image of this Olympic-class world champion would no longer defile a box of Corn Flakes. Michael Phelps went on to win five gold medals at the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships and will participate in the 2012 Olympic Games.

 

MARK STEPNOSKI, PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER

Football players are the most comprehensive athletes in the entire world. Professional football players must be capable of performing inhuman feats of strength and agility, at the same time properly memorizing thousands of plays and maneuvers as part of an overall strategy to attain victory for their team.

During his 13-year career in the National Football League, Mr. Stepnoski won two Super Bowl titles for the Dallas Cowboys. He has also admitted to smoking cannabis to treat his pain and insomnia while working full-time as an obviously gifted offensive lineman. I’d imagine that medicating didn’t inhibit his ability to memorize any of those game-winning strategies, either.

RICKY WILLIAMS, PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER

More than just an awesome football player with a professional career in the NFL that few athletes wouldn’t envy, Mr. Williams is also a strong proponent for medical cannabis. This public declaration not only cost him many of his endorsements, but he almost lost his entire career. The hammer really dropped on him after an interview with ESPN where he claimed that “ . . . marijuana is 10 times better for me than Paxil.” I wonder how many NFL athletes are on Paxil right now?

ROSS REBAGLIATI, OLYMPIC SNOWBOARDER

Olympic gold medalist and professional snowboarder Ross Rebagliati almost lost his gold medal after testing positive for cannabis. The only big news to come out of this story was the criticism that just about every professional Canadian snowboarder smokes cannabis for muscle-pain relief. Rebagliati’s medal was eventually reinstated. While Olympic rules still don’t make exceptions for medical cannabis, the plant is accepted as medicine in Italy, Germany and Holland.

MORE THAN HALF OF THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL LEAGUE

The National Basketball League doesn’t screen it’s players for cannabis use, and according to former Phoenix Suns player Richard Dumas, ‘”If they tested for pot, there would be no league.” Charles Oakley of the Toronto Raptors claims that many in the NBA are “playing high every night . . . 60 percent of your league is on marijuana.”

Is that the reason why they all play so damn well?

 

Great Balls of Irie

At the turn of this decade, the NBA underwent its own “Reefer Madness” after then-Toronto Raptor Charles Oakley claimed in a 1997 New York Post article that more than half of the players in the league were using cannabis. Commissioner David Stern disputed this, but that didn’t keep then drug czar Barry McCaffrey to write a Washington Post column that exaggerated and distorted cannabis use in the NBA. McCaffrey and others, however, ignored the truth: the true danger to players was heavy alcohol use.

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