Temple student athletes filled the bleachers of McGonigle Hall Monday night sharing similar facial expressions and asking the same questions to one another: “What are we doing here?” and “Who is this guy?”
The ‘guy’ they were referring to was Mike Green, a nationally-renowned expert on drug and alcohol abuse. Green was brought to campus to give a presentation to student athletes from every university sports team about the horrors of drugs and alcohol.
Green used a combination of humor, story telling, interaction and a few appropriately placed expletives in an attempt to capture the audiences’ attention.
And while it was obvious at the start of the night that many students did not know their reason for being there, at the conclusion of the presentation they had their answer.
“I think that all these athletes will take a lot out of this,” said sophomore Jason Mitchell, a member of the track team. “Some people go out at night without thinking. People are going to take this the next time they go to a party and think before they act.”
Green opened his speech with a joke, and went on by asking basic questions about the habits of drinking on campus.
“Who in here drinks?” he asked. “Who’s ever thrown up from drinking? Who has ever missed a class after a night of drinking?”
After the majority of the crowd raised their hands, Green continued by sharing the dangers of alcohol. He also offered advice on when to stop drinking, when to say no and how to be a casual drinker.
If he began to lose the attention of the crowd, Green simply told a joke or humorous story from his days in college.
Even though he was talking to students about a topic they had been hearing about since their days in junior high, Green knew the exact method for holding the audience.
“It’s all about engaging them in their own language,” Green said. “These kids have heard all of the scare tactics and they know all the facts and statistics about alcohol. That’s what the classroom is for. There is a difference between the ideal and the real. I’m talking reality and giving it to them in their language. I’m giving good advice about certain situations and I think that’s what they will take out of here.”
An admitted recovering alcoholic, Green had no trouble relating to the student athletes about everyday situations.
“He was able to reach everybody in the crowd and get everybody’s attention,” said senior Cynthia Jordan, the starting point guard on the women’s basketball team. “I thought it was important that he came with the style that he did, and not so much instructional. He really allowed the students to connect with him.”
To further drive his point home, Green brought along Scotty Oster, a ’00 Temple graduate and one-time member of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Oster, a former bartender at the Draught Horse on Cecil B. Moore Avenue, offered a fresher perspective on the evils of alcohol.
“I’ve never experienced the things (Green) has, but I have partied and I have been at the Division 1 level,” Oster said. “That was a different perspective that we wanted to get across. It wasn’t the point to come in and tell you not to party. The whole idea is to think when you drink, because those one-night problems can turn into a lifetime of regret.”
Green offered a share of somber stories, most of them having tragic endings. At one point his stories hit home with many in attendance.
“How many people in here have lost someone in an alcohol-related car accident?” asked Green, as a number of hands moved into the air in a suddenly quiet gymnasium. “Now look at the person next to you. Is their hand up? Just look at all these hands. Kind of changes things doesn’t it?”
While emotions may have been piqued, Green was able to close on a positive note. After a selected few received free T-shirts, Green gathered five students for a chugging contest using diet root beer.
“I thought this was very informative and positive for the student body,” Cynthia Jordan said. “People will take something positive from this. They will definitely take heed to what he said tonight.”
Green was hired by the university in order to draw the student atheletes’ attention to issues of binge drinking and drug use among college students.
Jonathan Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.