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Friday, October 30, 2009

Sometimes You Have to Deal With Difficult Subjects

Yesterday I knew I was going to have to write about this. It is not something I wanted to do. In fact, it is not something I ever thought I'd have to do. But since I have publicly declared my affections for Mr. Andre Agassi before, on this very blog, I have to deal with the confession he recently made in releasing excerpts from his autobiography, Open.

As I stated in that previous post, (click here for a link: I always admired Agassi. Immensely. I even named a pet hamster "Andre" in his honor. I wasn't so much a tennis fan as I was an Agassi fan. I haven't watched a single match since his retirement at the end of 2006. I still miss watching him play.

Then came the news a couple of days ago: Andre Agassi was a "meth-head". In our society it is not uncommon, in fact it is almost a rule, that young people will be faced with the temptation of drugs. The problem I have is not that Andre tried a drug, but that he tried a drug like crystal meth. That is a destructive, powerful, and addictive drug that destroys lives. How could he risk everything like that?

When it comes to Agassi I have always drawn parallels to my own life. After all, people always dismissed me athletically due to my size, just like Andre. Just like Andre I often proved that despite being thin I could hold my own. I had long hair like Andre, and then like Andre watched myself go bald. I even embraced the fact that my hair was thinning by shaving my head, just a few months before Andre started shaving his head!

But crystal meth, or any hard drug like that, is something I cannot relate to. Twice in the late 80s and early 90s I had someone confront me with a line of cocaine. "You know you want to try it!" Both times I refused to partake. Drugs were not something to be toyed with, and I knew, thanks to Nancy Reagan, that I had the power to "Just Say No". The fact that Agassi didn't use that power himself is disappointing.

I do give Agassi credit for coming clean. Not so much about his drug use, but about the fact that he lied to the ATP about it after a failed drug test. Just like with anything sinful, his drug use led to other sins. Not only did he put something in his body he shouldn't have, he then lied to cover his tracks. He should have known that the drug testing would find him out anyway.

Agassi's biggest mistake was that he allowed the wrong element into his life. He was introduced to the drug by his assistant Slim. Slim, obviously, was not the influence Agassi needed in his life. Just like the people that tried to get me to do cocaine were not the influences I needed in mine. In Agassi's case he allowed those influences to best him. In my case I refused to allow those influences to best me, and then I removed those influences from my life. I only wish I could say that about every bad influence I've had in my life.

Who we choose to trust with the privilege of taking up our time has a huge impact on the choices we make in life. Unfortunately most people come to this realization too late to prevent their own destructive behavior. If Agassi had realized sooner that Slim was a bad influence maybe he could have avoided his drug use. Then he wouldn't have lied to the ATP. Then he wouldn't have had to come clean all these years later.

The Bible puts it thusly: Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals. 1 Corinthians 15:33 (ASV)

Make sure your companionships are not evil.

Rick Reilly of ESPN has a great article on Agassi's new book. You can read that article at this link: Rick Reilly -- Andre Agassi once lived enough lives for five men


AndrewPrice said...

I have to say that I was surprised to hear this. When I heard he'd taken some drug, I figured it was steroids. From my own practice (though not personal experience) I can tell you that meth is ultra, ultra destructive. I am always stunned when people talk about legalizing meth. Crazy.

Gred Delaney said...

wow, this is a disappointment - i was under the impression that Pro Tennis is one of the cleaner sports out there

Writer X said...

He's lucky he was able to live and tell. A lot of people are not so lucky. Hopefully he'll do something positive with the bad experience, like volunteer at a drug treatment facility. He's got kids now; he's got to set an example.