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Rosenthal: ESPN reports that college students smoke marijuana



By now you’ve certainly seen the ESPN article about the “pervasive” marijuana use on the Duck football team, which cites an unidentified Duck who claims that weed is part of the team experience at Oregon for nearly half the squad. @@http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7819621/[email protected]@

Which is probably a pretty similar percentage to the student body.

The marijuana culture of the football team has nothing to do with undisciplined guys or bad coaching, because there is no marijuana culture of the football team. There is a football team comprised of a group of young men living in a town where marijuana is illegal only on paper.

Students and even some faculty members openly speak about it — have fun tomorrow, by the way — and I’ve even had several people ask me today if it’s possible that this atmosphere might actually put the Ducks at an advantage in the recruiting game.

For the record, it doesn’t. The schools with probably the most similar surrounding towns to Eugene in this regard are Boulder and Berkley, and neither Colorado or California are what you would call football powerhouses.

Inevitably people will ask how Ducks’ alleged (that seems like far too harsh a word) smoking habit affects their play on the field.

The anti-pot crusade will tell you that weed makes you slow and lazy, and if that’s true, I frankly don’t think the world is ready for an Oregon team that isn’t stoned, given how fast their offense moves already.

But I want to stop right there.

Although I personally would have no problems if there was as much marijuana use on the team as there is in the student section, I think it’s much more important to realize we don’t know how many players on the Ducks smoke.

The article says 19 “current and former” players have mentioned marijuana use on the team, but none of the current players have gone on the record. It mentions things that have happened in the past — the headline is “We Smoked it All” — and is based seemingly entirely on anecdotal evidence.

Anecdotal evidence, by the way, which suggests weed use was much greater before Chip Kelly took over. As in, Chip Kelly has already been taking steps to address the issue.

I know that because I read the entire article.  Unfortunately, that’s not how the Internet works.

The vast majority of people who read the article will probably stop reading well before that point in the article, and walk away with a very different situation.

Many readers probably won’t get far enough in the article to see that Oregon is far from the only school with this kind of issue, and readers who see the article because they were linked to it online won’t see that it was just a sidebar to another article.

I don’t think anything irritates me more than the way the mainstream media treat marijuana. They make it out to be some horribly dangerous drug by using big, bold graphics and sensationalized images when it is less medically dangerous than caffeine. It’s just dishonest.

I also can’t stand the obsession with using bad puns in weed stories the media seems to have. I’m looking at you, whoever designed the ESPN College Football front page graphic that had “Lying in the Weed,” “Stoned Age” and “Oregon’s ‘higher’ education” all visible at once.

The nature of today’s media, both the way news is reported and consumed, makes this story sound like a big deal. If you ask me, unless it’s effecting on-field performance, it’s really not a big deal.

Beyond that, it seems a little bit of dog-bites-man, and most importantly it really isn’t our business if players smoke on their own time. Sure, it’s illegal, but so is jaywalking — and only jaywalking can be deadly.


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Isaac Rosenthal

Isaac Rosenthal