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Football and drugs--commentary

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By Mike Forster

As nearly all of you know, in Amherst County, the star quarterback of the football team (state player of the year, in fact) was busted for dealing drugs in his school.

Last week, Virginia Tech pulled its offer of a full football scholarship. The young man still faces felony charges.

In discussing the incident with area teachers, coaches, students and fans, the same things are said over and over: How stupid. What was he thinking? What a wasted opportunity.

The purpose of this column isn?t to pile on.

Rather, I?d like to share a couple of thoughts that come to mind, relative to what has transpired.

First, while some were quick to applaud the new ?law and order? Frank Beamer, I am less apt to see it that way.

There was no other way that Beamer could go on this one. The player had yet to don the maroon and orange. That is, he was a signee, not a Hokie. No loyalty had been built.

Beamer has shown an extraordinary level of patience (see Brandon Ore) with his players. But there is a quid pro quo to his methodology. This guy had done nothing for Tech, so it was easy for Tech to do nothing here, except yank the scholarship.

Tech, rightfully, has caught a bunch of flak for the behavior of its players over the years. In cutting this guy loose, Beamer gets to wear the white hat for a change. But, make no mistake, he?s not ready to run for a judgeship in Montgomery County.

Second, this could be a blessing in disguise. If this young man had come to Tech, as originally planned, what sort of trouble might he have gotten himself into?

Tech does not have a reputation for turning its footballers into boy scouts. Coming into such an environment could have meant poison.

Instead, once his legal problems are behind him, he may be able to land on his feet elsewhere. Whether he plays football again is certainly part of that equation. However, I would strongly suspect that this experience (and the trials he faces up the road) will deter him from such nonsense in the future.

Everyone who knows this guy speaks well of him. While he faces some big-time, as in felony, charges, it is hoped that he can learn from his alleged foray into the dark side.

He?ll still be a fine football player, no doubt. But, being a fine football player does not, of itself, make one a fine human.

Third, if a kid who had so much going for him can be lured into the world of drugs, it is easy to understand how just about any kid can be so enticed.

Make no mistake, illicit drugs are a big business. The bad guys that run the business get rich by generating customers and by getting those customers to sell their garbage for them.

The bad guys are targeting your kids, and they care not one whit whether he is a jock, a goth, a geek or a head-banger.

Here is a free tip for talking to your kids about drugs: tell them you will physically beat them to within an inch of their lives should you catch them with drugs. If you are not capable of doing that, retain a big, strong guy who can. Fear is good. Fear works.

Fourth, drug testing is not the answer, although many of you with whom I?ve spoken seem to believe it is.

We have become a society that is big on Law, little on Order. We are great at catching people doing bad things, but are lousy at punishing them.

The only way a drug testing program would work would be if a) all students were tested and b) one failed test resulted in permanent expulsion from the school.

We?re not going to play it that way, are we?

Here?s one final thought. With all the gnashing of teeth over the drug problems in our schools, it?s nice to see that the Amherst sheriff?s office did something meaningful about it.

Assigning an undercover police officer for an entire school year to mingle among the students is a huge commitment..

My first reaction was that seven arrests didn?t seem like a big number. However, when you realize that these seven were the ones allegedly selling the junk to other kids, you realize how that seven number can multiply. The investment of that officer?s time certainly seems to have paid off.

This was a case where the elected officials of Amherst County listened to their constituency?s concerns and did something about them. A big tip of the hat to our neighbors to the northeast.