We like to think we can look at a player and tell if he’s using steroids. Mark McGwire’s biceps? Obviously. Barry Bonds’ expanding head? No doubter. But do you feel the need to look into PEDs when you look at this:
One school district does. Visalia, Calif., schools are instituting random drug testing for cheerleaders, to go along with the program already in place for athletes. One cheerleading coach sums up the reasoning with the early favorite for quote of the weekend: “You don’t want your daughter being thrown into the air by anyone on drugs.”
Check out the headline in that FRESNO BEE story. “Visalia cheerleaders to be subject to drug testing, just like athletes.” How fricking demeaning is that? They’re not “just like athletes,” they are athletes. They have coaches, competitions, and cheerleading is the sport with the 2nd most injuries, behind football.
So, the girls get to be grouped in with athletes, the school gets to cover its ass legally, and the deadly scourge of steroids is wiped off the map one school at a time. What’s not to like? As usual, ask the lawyers.
School districts may say safety is the goal, but drug testing of high schoolers presents “a privacy problem,” said Michael Risher, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney in San Francisco.
“As the price of being a cheerleader, you have to agree to being summoned down the hall to pee in a cup,” Risher said.
But privacy rights don’t apply to high school athletes engaged in interscholastic sports, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1995. Students are minors and competitive athletics can be dangerous, so safety concerns outweigh any minimal loss of privacy, the court ruled.
A 2002 Supreme Court decision extended that to extracurricular activities of all kinds.
Coach Carnahan, who has been involved in cheer most of her life, notes that the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled last month that cheerleading is a “contact sport.”
That court ruled that a cheerleader injured in a fall could not sue the school district or fellow cheerleaders.
Obviously, since drug testing is only now becoming common in the world of cheerleading, we should put asterisks next to any records set before this era. Those back handsprings were done with chemical aides!