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Hartselle Enquirer

Getting tough on drug use

By Staff
Todd Thompson, Sports Editor
Hartselle’s baseball season is still about two weeks away, but the Tigers are probably already a little battle-worn.
They haven’t even played a game. Not one pitch has been thrown.
Still, it’s already been a tough season.
Just a week removed from the arrests of several players and a team-wide drug testing situation, the Tigers continue to go through their preparations for the upcoming season.
But this season will be different. There will be plenty of unanswered questions and even more disputing school rules regarding punishments for positive drug tests.
Three baseball players were given five days suspension, 20 days in alternative school and a ban from baseball activities for six playing dates.
The punishment follows guidelines outlined in the Hartselle student handbook and code of conduct.
But was the punishment enough? Some say yes, others don’t agree.
In the days following the arrest of the two students and the suspension of all three involved after the drugs were found in backpacks in the Hartselle baseball facility, internet forums and chat rooms have been hot with discussion on the situation.
Some allege preferential treatment for athletes at the high school, a charge that is consistently leveled at most schools.
But this case certainly is different. This involves illegal drug use on campus by students. And that provokes a lot of intense feelings.
It doesn’t really matter what someone thinks of head coach William Booth, or Hartselle baseball. These punishments went according to the book.
The student handbook, approved by school officials several years ago in the wake of another incident involving baseball players, is geared to deal with situations like these swiftly and consistently.
Considering the offense, it might have been better to ban each of the three studdent-athletes from participation in extra-curricular activities for a calender year. Harsh, true, but it certainly would send a message to everyone else in the school system.
But the student handbook doesn’t have the guidelines to suspend students that severely for a first offense.
Maybe it’s time for Hartselle City Schools to re-evaluate the prescribed punishments. This is no time for finger-pointing and egos. Young lives are at stake.
Sports editor Todd Thompson can be reached at 773-6566 or by email at todd.thompson@hartselleenquirer.com

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