Recovery Rangers

It’s national recovery month, you must have seen the news coverage. You didn’t? That’s because there isn’t any. For a condition that has plagued man since forever, that has destroyed families and communities, and spawned an us winnable drug war, we as a culture, don’t pay much attention to the reverse side of the addiction coin. Recovery. Consider that the NFL wears pink cleats for breast cancer, and well they should, but where is the support for the issue of addiction and recovery? In a small but very important way, it’s alive and well in the Texas Rangers clubhouse.
Recovery Rangers
I have long regarded the Texas Rangers as the top sports franchise for recovery. While I have tried to ask why, I haven’t had much luck with a sit down with team head honcho, Nolan Ryan. Some years back, the Rangers manager, Ron Washington, tested positive for cocaine in a routine drug screening. He promptly issued a statement and gave his resignation to the Rangers. It was then that the Rangers demonstrated their understanding of addiction. Nolan Ryan rejected the resignation of Washington and opted to work with him. It was a bold statement of compassion and understanding of how addiction works and how recovery can work.

Supporting Team Members During Addiction Recovery

The Rangers won the AL West and it was met with the usual dog-pile merriment. It’s a major accomplishment, it might be one of the hardest things in sports to accomplish. Among the Rangers current roster are Jeremy Jeffress and Matt Bush, two young guys who are recovering alcoholics. In a bold move and departure from the usual callus disenfranchisement of alcoholics, the Rangers went the opposite way buy supporting Bush and Jeffress and their recovery. Instead of spraying champagne, the Rangers opted for ginger ale, a small but important gesture. There are two outcomes if the Rangers didn’t support these two, relapse or isolation. Bush and Jeffress would have either been swept up into the group norm of drinking or they would have sat isolated from the rest of the team.

Sports is a powerful system. It has the power to shift the culture in many directions. The recent media frenzy over Colin Kaepernick shows just what a loud voice sports has in American life. The sports world is rife with is sure regarding alcohol and other drug use, it’s a daily occurrence if one looks. Seldom, if ever, do we see the victories and that’s too bad. Additionally, we don’t see nearly enough of good drug and alcohol policy that can genuinely help people. MLB has pink bats for breast cancer, they are major participants in “stand up to cancer”, almost every night at an MLB stadium has some kind of advocacy attached to it. I have been to “dog day” at the Mets home Citi field to raise money for shelters, autism speaks, special olympics, veterans causes, all noble and worthy endeavors, but what about recovery? Why isn’t there a night for recovery month at any MLB park?

While they may not know, the Texas Rangers are the top team in all of sports for dealing with issues of addiction and recovery. They have shown they support people who are actively using and those who are in recovery and want to stay there. When a public system like a professional sports franchise is faced with issues and recovery, often times they spin the issue until it dies a news death. That needs to stop and the Texas Rangers are leading the way. Well done to Bush and Jeffress and well done to the Rangers. Should they win the World Series I hope they make a very big deal out of showering each other with ginger ale instead of champagne.