During a class discussion someone asked a question about the DARE campaign. It provoked a strong reaction in me.

I came of age in the era of DARE and Just Say No. They were filled with simplistic information about resisting peer pressure, but offered no thoughts beyond the threat of jail on why drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gangs, and violence might be a bad idea or why and how they might actually feel good and solve (if only briefly) some of the problems of being an adolescent.

So why did I have the strong response?

I was a teenage smoker and still struggle with a nicotine habit. No one ever mentioned how pleasant smoking cigarettes would be. No one ever mentioned that cigarettes don’t make a healthy athletic teen feel sick. No one ever mentioned that as a lonely kid who might not have had the full complement of social skills that being a smoker would guarantee a social network and guarantee meaningful interaction several times a day. No one ever mentioned that nicotine would help me focus and remember things better. I’m pretty sure no one mentioned in graphic detail how incredibly hard it is to quit.

I don’t deny my responsibility in this saga. I just want to personalize the story of how badly those programs miss the point.

When situations come up with athletes doing something completely stupid I think back to the peculiar logic behind my past as a smoker. There is almost always some thought process behind the action. I find that no matter how misguided those stupid decisions may be they are seldom stupid at all.

I’ll buy the first person in the program (student or Prof) that asks me “Got a light?” the drink of their choice. Coke, Pepsi, beer, liquor, coffee it doesn’t matter I’m buying if you’re reading. (Seriously)

See you in class.