With the draft upon us, we can expect to see a lot of fresh-faced youngsters hoping for their big break into the world of professional AFL footy. This world offers a lot of dangers as well as rewards. Right now, new recruits and their family worry about the impact of drugs on their careers. This article explains how to enjoy your drugs while minimising career risks with a handy online drug-use planner, for easy calculation.
The AFL - especially through the Players' Association - has gone to a lot of effort to keep those positive test results low and players' names stay out of the papers. Whether it's allowing a generous "three strikes", getting court injunctions (repeatedly), hounding blabber-mouths, whitewashing "mysterious" tip-offs or just ensuring that players are seldom tested, they'll leave no stone unturned protecting their precious players.
So it doesn't matter if you hang out with drug dealers or others with underworld connections. Many of the biggest names in the sport do. Just ask Michael Gardiner, Daniel Kerr, Alan Didak or Ben Cousins. It gives you street cred and cheap supplies and your employer will keep the heat off your back.
If you play AFL, then eventually - perhaps after several years - you will be asked to pee into the cup. You can always ask to be excused, on the grounds that you can't provide a sample. Sounds crazy, but hey - it's worked before! But failing that, there's a chance that you might provide a dirty sample. Uh oh. Not to worry - you've got two free kicks before there's serious ramifications. With a career expectancy of four years, you'll likely only be tested half a dozen times anyway.
As slight as it is, there's still a prospect of returning that dreaded positive result. The best way to manage this is to determine at the outset what level of risk you're comfortable with. What odds can you live with?
That's where the online drug planner comes in. Let's face it, if you've been recruited by the AFL you're not going to be a mathematical wizard. Hell, you likely stopped paying attention in Year Ten and relied on the PE staff to get you through senior school. So, if statistics and the like are all a bit hard, let The Speccy crunch the numbers and put it in terms a footballer will understand: gambling odds. (Yes, a lot of you young blokes like a flutter - and if you don't you will soon.)
It's simple. Think of it as career Russian roulette. Just select your preferred drug and how often you'd like to take it. Take a stab at your career length (be realistic: ten year stayers are very rare these days). Down at the bottom is the (decimal) odds of your drug use curtailing that career. It couldn't be easier!
AFL Drug Use Planner
For example, if you can only handle a 1% chance of being named and shamed, stick to taking your cocaine once a month. Take it weekly if you're comfortable with a one in four chance. Get it? Choose from cocaine, ice, speed, ecstasy, ketamine, Valium (for the come down), LSD (if you like "candy-flipping") and the other party favourites. Just dial up the frequency and away you go.
And thank your stars you're not playing in the NRL, where their two-strikes policy and higher test rates might put a real dampener on the party. Enjoy - and stay safe.
The Gory DetailsThe default figures are for the AFL's current policy of naming on the third strike and providing 1000 tests per year across 650 players. Until August, 2007 there were only 500 tests per year. By contrast the NRL has 1100 tests across 450 players, with just one strike allowed before public naming.
The model is based on the Poisson Process - the standard statistical approach to modelling random events across a period of time. First, it calculates the player's "dirty time". This is the percentage of his time that he spends "dirty" (ie returning a positive results if sampled). This is driven by the type of drug and how frequently it's taken. (Drug detectability times were taken from a public source.)
The next key statistic is the number of tests faced across the career. This is a function of the number of tests by the league per year, the number of players in the league and the number of years spent playing in the league.
Using the player's "dirty time" and invoking the PASTA principle (Poisson Arrivals See Time Averages), the arrive strike parameter is computed. Based on this the model works out the probability distribution (pmf) for a player getting a strike zero times, once, twice, three times and so on before the player's name goes public: that is, before the "allowed strikes" are all used up.
The model assumes constant testing and drug use rates. In practice, this is likely to vary throughout the year. For example, the six week test-free drug binge at the end of the year is not taken into account. Nor is "target testing", where risky players are selected. Should the AFL decide to make public the details of how this is done, the model can be updated.
For now, it is a useful rough guide based on public information. Your mileage may very, so please keep your usage conservative.
This footy drug-use calculator was used to calculate the statistics for my Crikey piece last week, A 1% chance: The stats on the AFL's farcical drug regime, arguing that the AFL's drugs policy is weaker than the NRL's: with fewer tests and more strikes, it offers much less deterrence.
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