I hope so, but the fight is far from over.
In 2008, Texas became the third state to begin steroid testing, setting up a massive $6 million program. Every one of the state’s 700,000-plus public school athletes — from freshmen female tennis players to senior offensive linemen in football — were eligible to be randomly selected, pulled from class and required to submit a urine sample.
But after the first 50,000 tests produced fewer than two dozen confirmed cases, critics derided the effort as a waste of money. This month, with the state facing a projected $15 billion budget shortfall, the House’s first draft budget eliminated the program’s money. A Senate draft still includes funding.
Even some one-time supporters of screening are wavering. “We accomplished our goal,” said state Rep. Dan Flynn, “and that was to educate and create a deterrent.”
Texas has been scaling down the program almost since it began. The original $6 million budget was slashed to $2 million in 2009.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, an early supporter, intends to fight to preserve the tests as “an important deterrent,” said his spokesman, Mike Walz. When put up against proposed budget cuts for teachers and pre-kindergarten programs, health care for the poor and myriad other budget issues, said Flynn, “What’s more important? We didn’t catch a lot of kids, but we were hoping we wouldn’t have to. I can’t fight to get $1.8 million.”
I just can’t understand the mindset that says this is the line in the sand to draw. Why is this so much more important than all those other things that are being gutted? I get that people think it has value, even though I disagree with them. But look, we’re on the Titanic and there’s not enough lifeboats to save everybody. The question is not whether something has value, it’s whether it has enough value to put it ahead of everything else in line. I don’t see how this can be justified in that context.