The NFL has a tendency to hog the spotlight in the national sports scene. Baseball and basketball are American staples as well, but, for whatever reason, they just don’t seem to draw the attention of as many people as football does. Maybe it has something to do with the limited game time relative to the other sports. Baseball and basketball teams play more than a hundred games in any given season, while the NFL plays only sixteen. In the relative calm of the NFL off-season, the other sports have less to contend with in media circles.
The NBA recently made headlines when players made a concerted effort to push the league to legalize medical marijuana. This is hardly the first time that such a sentiment has been bandied about. I even found an NY Times article dating back to 1997 that contains the quote, “If the NBA tested for marijuana, there would be no league.”
But with the ever-loosening attitude on cannabis, and medical cannabis in particular, its only natural that the issue would find its way back into the headlines. The rigors of the NBA may not be on par with the grueling pace and impact of professional football, but basketball injuries are very real. Additionally, I’m sure the shady administration of pain pills and “keep-em-on-the-court-at-all-costs” medical guidance is not unique to the NFL. To the owners and advertisers, athletes are investments, not people. The pressure to consistently produce is as real in the NBA as it is in any other professional sport.
The arguments for legal medical cannabis in the NBA are, more or less, identical to the arguments for legal medical cannabis in the NFL. Namely, the risk to players is exceptionally minimal and the pain/stress management potential is huge. While pro athletes are paid well to play a game, we, as fans, do expect them to entertain us with little concern for their personal well-being and overall health. I don’t mean to insinuate we should pity these players, I think that most of them know full well the risks of their profession and choose to play anyway.
Cannabis should be allowed for NBA players — and any pro athlete, actually. It’s a true win/win for the players, the league, the fans and the advertisers. It’s simple stress mechanics. The harder you are on anything, the faster it wears down. League-legal medical cannabis would help players stay on the court longer (to every stakeholder’s satisfaction) and also increase the quality of life for retired players.
If Kevin Durant was allowed to smoke a joint after a stressful game/practice, his mind and body would be able to heal more efficiently. Thus, he would be less prone to injury and, if injured, would likely spend less time on the bench healing.Which pro sport will lead the way on cannabis? The time is now to stake the claim on this space. Every pro sport dances around the issue, too afraid to take a stance and wade into moral ambiguity. The shift is coming, it’s just a matter of time.