Ron Washington rode the white horse. So what?

Most people will probably screw up in one way or another at some point in their lives. It’s only human to wreck a car or a marriage, to fail a class, to get fired from a job, maybe even to have problems with drugs, alcohol or the law.  When most folks fall short, they do so quietly, hopefully learning from their mistakes and moving on.  If they suffer setbacks, it isn’t plastered across the news, unless it’s something particularly egregious or bizarre.  This is all to their benefit, as anonymity is generally thought to be indispensable to recovery.

Celebrities rarely get this consideration. For all the privileges famous people receive, they don’t enjoy the essential right most people might take for granted of getting to deal privately with personal issues. Every day, there’s some unfortunate (and yes, entertaining) gossip in the news about an entertainer or athlete.  The more lurid the tale, the farther it spreads.  I admit I read every last story sometimes, but when I stop and think about it, I must say it’s a little amazing the standards celebrities and other well-known figures are often held to.

ESPN and other outlets trumpeted news Wednesday that the manager of the Texas Rangers, Ron Washington, tested positive for cocaine last year, and after some reflection, I have to say: So what?  Granted, I don’t condone the use of cocaine or other illegal drugs, but assuming Washington truthfully claimed he used only once, it seems he could have committed far worse transgressions.  His use didn’t keep him from fulfilling the duties of his job, as the Rangers finished 87-75.  Far as I know, Washington didn’t become addicted or get behind the wheel of a car or commit any crimes when he used cocaine, short of breaking some drug laws.

I admit I have fairly radical views regarding America’s policies on drugs.  Basically, I’m against drug use for me and anyone I care about.  I think if somebody has a problem with drugs or alcohol, they should stop.  That being said, I think we as a country waste tremendous amounts of time, money and resources that could be better put to use elsewhere when we condemn and prosecute recreational drug use.  I don’t really buy into the idea that purchasing drugs supports things like terrorism, but I do believe that criminalizing use drives up prices exponentially, thus increasing drug-related thefts and violence.  Were it up to me, all drugs would be legal, and we’d quit pointing fingers about who was using and who wasn’t, unless the use started affecting other lives.

By all accounts it sounds like Washington will emerge relatively unscathed from all this. He entered a drug program, kept his job and received support Wednesday from his players. Now, he can hopefully put this weird, little story behind him and focus on what looks to be a competitive race in the American League West.  This of course doesn’t resolve questions of how a 57-year-old man even gets offered cocaine, and I imagine this will probably be the wildest story we hear about a manager for some time.  All the same, Washington faces an easier road ahead than any player who really has a problem with drugs or alcohol.  How any of them has a chance of staying sober in this current media environment, I don’t know.

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