Reggie Moore, a Rainier Beach alum and WSU basketball's starting point guard, was recently arrested in Pullman and cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession. Moore's bust is the third weed-related incident that the WSU athletic department has dealt with in the past six months. Back in October, two football players were caught living in an apartment that doubled as a grow house, and in November two baseball players were cited for misdemeanor possession. Some Cougar fans are outraged at the unlawful behavior--but does it really matter when the players are performing at a high (no pun intended) level?
There is outrage in the Cougar sports blogosphere over all the pot-smoking that's been happening lately in the Palouse. SB Nation's Brian Floyd opines:
I know it's just weed, and say what you will about the laws, but there's a standard here. These are athletes putting their future in doubt to get high.
It's disappointing to hear the news amid everything else. I'm tired of hearing news like this about our athletes. It doesn't just make the team look bad, it makes the school look bad and embarrasses the alumni. Clean it up and figure it out because this is getting ridiculous.
Floyd is fed up not only with Moore, but with what seems to be pervasive pot use among athletes in the school's high-profile sports. The aforementioned football players--linebacker Jamal Atofau and safety Andre Barrington--were arrested along with two other WSU students when police served a search warrant on their apartment and unearthed a garden of 38 pot plants growing in the basement. On the baseball team, pitchers David Stilley and Paris Shewey were arrested with three others and charged with misdemeanor possession and paraphernalia possession when Pullman police searched their apartment.
There's no doubt it's bad publicity, but it's worth noting that most of the players in question were at the top of their respective games. Moore in particular has been lighting it up (OK, pun intended this time) on the basketball court. He's second on the team in assists, shooting 47 percent on three-point attempts, and winning his coach's approval with "tenacious defense and scrappy ball-hawking play."
Shewey, meanwhile, was one of WSU's best relief pitchers. He appeared in 30 games, finishing with a 7-3 record and a 3.57 ERA. He was, according to Floyd, the favorite to win the closer role his senior year. At the time of Atofau's arrest, Floyd wrote that he "played a big role on special teams and was earning more time at [strongside linebacker] this year."
Not all the players were living up to their potential. Barrington sat out last season due to a poor showing in the classroom, and Stilley went just 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA. It's probably a stretch to say that weed is to blame for their misfortunes, but it probably didn't help matters either.
Obviously athletes should avoid run-ins with the law. Not only is it bad for them personally, it's a distraction for the team and a (mostly unfair) blemish on the school itself. But there's all kinds of evidence--from Rasheed Wallace to Mark Stepnoski to Michael Phelps--that proves that a little reefer has virtually zero impact on an athlete's ability to perform. In other words, the WSU athletic department--and concerned Cougar fans--should just chill, man.