Once again, Oakland is leading the way for forward-thinking cannabis views. During a recent interview, the head coach of the Oakland Warriors, Steve Kerr, admitted to using cannabis for medical purposes in the last eighteen months. Instead of national outrage, Kerr’s admission is being regarded as normal within the natural progression in America’s shifting acceptance of cannabis. (Steve, if you are reading this, hit us up at 510.692.1716 for a Yerba Appreciation Pack!)
For those unfamiliar with Steve Kerr’s recent situation, know that the pain he endured over the last two years posed an immense threat to his coaching career. Just weeks after the Warriors won the 2014-2015 NBA Championships, Kerr underwent back surgery in July of 2015 to repair a ruptured disc. This surgery resulted in a spinal fluid leak, which required a second corrective surgery in September.
For the first half of the 2015-2016 season, Kerr was unable to facilitate any onsite coaching responsibilities, so the job fell to assistant coach Luke Walton. Despite his medical absence, the Warriors won a record 73 regular season games, and Kerr walked away with the Coach of the Year Award for the 2015-16 season.
While medical professionals have not produced an explanation, Kerr also experienced debilitating headaches after his first surgery. He has since said that the pain from the headaches far outweighed the lingering pains associated with surgery, leaving him angry and emotionally upset.
Kerr recently stated that he used cannabis to combat the chronic pain in his back, as well as the pressure headaches that resulted from the surgeries. While his public admission has drawn scrutiny, a much larger percentage of people are wondering: “Why is this still a thing?”
Cannabis in Sports: Protect the Kids at the Expense of Their Role Models
The topic of medical cannabis in sports has exploded over the past two years, especially within the National Football League, and the National Basketball Association. Both sports require an incredible amount of physical impact, and many players (anonymously) admit to using cannabis to add longevity to their careers.
Coach Steve Kerr’s use of medical cannabis adds another layer to the debate, or maybe it is better stated that his use of cannabis refines the argument of cannabis use by athletes. Most sports governing agencies agree that publicized use of cannabis, regardless of medical or recreational intention, sets a negative example for youths who see athletes as role models. This has clearly been a major component of fear driving those opposed to medical cannabis.
Secondly, cannabis has been grouped by doping agencies as a performance-enhancing drug, although in the famous words of the late comedian Robin Williams, “Marijuana is only a performance-enhancing drug if there is a giant Hershey bar at the end of the run.”
The idea that athletes gain an advantage from cannabis use only makes sense if they are using it for medical purposes, such as muscle relaxation or stamina regeneration. No other substances is categorized as a performance-enhancing drug for purposes of regenerative health that occur after the sporting event has finished! And yet, cannabis remains illegal under Federal law.
Steve Kerr’s admitted use of medical cannabis throws arguments from anti-cannabis groups into a weird limbo. Either Kerr, the Coach of the Year who oversaw the most regular season wins in history, is a bad role model engaged in illegal performance-enhancing activity (even though he is not playing on the court), or, cannabis might actually have medical benefits for current and former players dealing with lingering injuries.
National sports authorities are not likely to condone cannabis use by athletes and other sports figures anytime soon, but if they truly care about the future of their business, they probably should. While the NFL has been cast as the heartless, soul- (and health) sucking organization, the NBA is also in danger of upsetting loyal fans. For you see, there is no way to justify pain and suffering when relief is available, and Americans everywhere are getting frustrated by the hypocrisy.
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