Since I can't sleep, I thought I'd pass along this interesting link, courtesy of Big House Dog. It's a chart from the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) at the University of Maryland, detailing the prevalence of various kinds of drug use by 12th grade US students, according to the results of a 2006 survey. The drug of choice is, unsurprisingly, marijuana, the use of which 31% of high school seniors admit to. But, notable in a sports context is that 8.1% admit to using amphetamines (of one form or another) and 1.8% admit to using steroids. I describe this as notable in a sports context because amphetamine use has really flown under the radar as a matter of concern in the debate about performance enhancing drugs. But, ever since Jim Bouton wrote Ball Four in 1970, we've known that use of amphetamines is widespread in baseball and has been for decades. And, if one of the main goals of eradicating PEDs from sports is a concern with the role-model effect on impressionable youngsters, here's more evidence that amphetamines is far more prevalent than steroids and, perhaps, ought to receive far more attention.
Richard Lapchick, director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, was recently quoted in the McClatchy newspapers on the extent of the PED problem in high schools:
"Take a closer look at college football and high schools, too...The biggest consumers of performance-enhancing drugs in America today are teenage boys under the age of 16 who are not athletes. It's a pervasive social issue that goes even beyond sports, certainly beyond what's going on in the NFL and Major League Baseball."
Like Baseball, the NFL only added amphetamines to its list of banned PEDs in 2006. Judging by what's going on in high schools - assuming that the role-model argument is central to Congress' and the leagues' desire to eliminate PEDs - the relative lack of attention paid to amphetamines is completely backwards. Then again, we already know that the news cycle for doping in sports has never been driven primarily by what sport, or what drugs, pose the most serious problems.