Should you, professional athlete, smoke weed before a competition?

After his bout against Roy Jones Jr., Mike Tyson let the world in on his pre-competition training regimen.

After his bout against Roy Jones Jr., Mike Tyson let the world in on his pre-competition training regimen.
Image: Getty Images

So Mike Tyson smoked weed before his boxing match Saturday night.

Bill Walton is probably pissed he didn’t get to do color commentary with Snoop.

In a post-fight press conference, Tyson said: “Listen, I can’t stop smoking… I smoked during fights. I just have to smoke, I’m sorry. I’m a smoker. … I smoke every day. I never stopped smoking.”


And so “Man Smokes Weed Before Athletic Competition”became a story for a day. But professional athletes have been lighting up before games for a while now. And with more states legalizing recreational marijuana, the news of Tyson getting stoned before a match just hit different.

The 54-year-old Tyson went on to say that marijuana “has no effect on me from a negative standpoint. It’s just what I do and how I am and how I’m going to die. There’s no explanation. There’s no beginning, there’s no end.”


Okay, maybe he lit up before the press conference, too, because that does not sound like a sober quote.

Still, as leagues loosen their marijuana guidelines and recreational cannabis continues to gain cultural acceptance, we thought we should go through some of the pros and cons for smoking/ingesting marijuana before competing.

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Let’s investigate.

Pro: It can help reduce anxiety before a competition

Percy Harvin smoked weed before every NFL game to calm down. The former Pro Bowl receiver and Super Bowl champion told Bleacher Report that weed was “the only thing that really seemed to work” in managing his anxiety. He said he had been prescribed antidepressants but preferred the “natural way” to deal with his mental health.


Con: You’ll probably get thirsty

It’s a side effect that may be a problem for any athletic endeavor.

Pro: Marijuana is safer than opioids

Like many other NFL players, Nate Jackson was given painkillers when he would come into the locker room for an injury. He says he experienced withdrawal from these pills days after using. Thankfully, he found a less addictive and more effective treatment in cannabis.


And after Calvin Johnson retired, he said he smoked frequently. But after every game.

“When I got to the league, [there] was opioid abuse,” Johnson told Sports Illustrated. “You really could go in the training room and get what you wanted. I can get Vicodin, I can get Oxy[contin]. It was too available. I used Percocet and stuff like that. And I did not like the way that made me feel. I had my preferred choice of medicine. Cannabis.”


Con: You may take too much

Chill, dude, you’re not going to die from overdosing on weed. The CDC says it’s “unlikely.” But you still can smoke or ingest too much. That probably won’t help your athletic performance no matter who you are.


Pro: You may have more energy

Ultrarunner Avery Collins gets a high off getting high and running in the mountains. He runs for dozens of miles in the Colorado Rockies multiple times a week, and he usually does so stoned. In an interview with Cannabis & Tech Today, he said, “THC allows me to break away and really enjoy running for what I got into it for, which is just to be outside, to be in the mountains, all that more cliché, hippy stuff, but it’s real.”


Con: You may have far less energy

Let’s be honest, if you’re reading this you probably can’t run like Avery Collins. You could also never smoke weed in your life and understand that this drug and exercise don’t always go well together.


Pro: You can eat back all the calories you lost, and then some

If you’re a professional athlete, odds are you’re in incredible shape. Maybe you need to eat like Michael Phelps in order to maintain peak performance. Having the munchies could actually help here.


Con: You can still get penalized for it

It wasn’t on the list of banned substances at the Tyson bout, but marijuana is still outlawed in one of the four major leagues — the NBA. If you’re a player who tests positive for cannabis use, you must enter a special program. If you test positive again, you could be subject to a $25,000 fine. If you’re especially negligent and test positive for a third time, you’ll start getting suspended. No one wants to see that happen.

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