Football

The lesson learned from the Clemson drug test fiasco: Parents, your job isn’t over yet

Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney will be without three players for the national seminfinal game against Notre Dame on Saturday in Arlington. Three players were suspended for failing a drug test, most notably defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, who is expected to be a top 15 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney will be without three players for the national seminfinal game against Notre Dame on Saturday in Arlington. Three players were suspended for failing a drug test, most notably defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, who is expected to be a top 15 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. AP

The lesson in the Clemson drug test fiasco is that kids are celebrated because they are just that, only until they are expected to be adults.

We send our kids away to college to play sports and assume the coach and his endless staff of professionals will guide them, and they try, but the machine will treat them like adults when it suits their needs.

During a recruiting visit, a college coach sells parents on them watching “their kids” like their own, and upon arrival the kid is immediately expected to be an adult. If your kid is fortunate enough to land an athletic scholarship, know this: Your son or daughter’s coach owns your kid, and their entire schedule.

There is nothing optional about “optional workouts” or “optional practice” time.

If you want to know what sort of nutrition or medical care your son/daughter is receiving, they will have to sign a release form because the university is now treating them like an adult.

Moms/dads, here is the reality of college sports: You still gotta ask and still have to look even when they are away under the care and direction of a well-meaning professional. Even when they are 21. Because no one looks after your kid like you, and they are not adults.

The suspension of three Clemson players for Saturday’s Cotton Bowl against Notre Dame for failed drug tests shows one of the many failures in industry of “amateur athletics.” The kids messed up, because they’re not adults.

They’re kids And kids are, as a rule, idiots.

The suspension of junior defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence is the one that matters. The 6-foot-4, 350-pound roadblock is projected as a top 15 selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. The other suspended players are tight end Braden Galloway and offensive lineman Zach Giella.

Clemson is still a 12.5 point favorite to defeat Notre Dame in a college football semifinal game at Jerry’s Night Club.

“All three of those guys were disappointed but not surprised,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Friday at a press conference after the team learned that the “B” sample of the drug test turned positive for the three players. “You gotta treat it like an injury; the next guy has to go play. They’re not going to cancel the game. ... I don’t want to lessen the impact of Dexter. We’re going to miss him. He’s a phenomenal player.”

Through an appeal, per Swinney, there is a chance the three players could re-gain eligibility for the “It’s Still Basically The BCS Title” game next week against Alabama (sorry, Oklahoma).

Neither the coach, nor Lawrence, had any genuine explanation why the trio of Clemson players were flagged for taking the banned substance “ostarine.”

Ostarine is on the list of banned substances by the United States Anti-Doping agency. It currently is “not approved for human use or consumption in the U.S., or in any other country,” according to USADA.

Generally that’s a problem.

Clemson’s explanations on this range from hair gel to chemicals in the recovery pool in the training room.

At Cotton Bowl Media Day on Thursday, Lawrence was adamant he had no idea he took anything that included a potentially banned substance. I believe him. He has a draft-status to protect.

Per the USADA, the only products available that contain Ostarine are “illegal ones.”

So Lawrence (21 years old), Galloway (18) and Giella (22) were given something that is widely known as a muscle builder throughout the weight-lifting community by an adult who likely assured them they would not get caught.

If any Clemson trainer, or coach, is in any way remotely responsible for this, they should be fired yesterday and never allowed to work again with amateurs.

If this is some typical rogue meathead who is friends with the Clemson players and simply gave them a supplement to boost their strength, shame on the adult. Shame on the kid, too.

Let’s not fool ourselves, college football players have been taking steroids for years, and despite increased awareness and testing, today is no different. These guys just got popped.

The Clemson team, and the college football machine, will roll on and the only real losers are the three players.

Because, in the end, they are just kids. Kids who simply screwed up.

Even though their coaches, and their university, will treat them as adults, they aren’t.

So if your son or daughter is fortunate enough to earn an athletic scholarship under the direction of a well-meaning coach, just know the job isn’t over. You still have to ask. You still have to look. You still have to remind. You still have to check. You still have to parent.

Because no one is going to look after your kid any better than you.

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