Who Is Really To Blame For Steroids In Sports?
American society loves to place blame, but hates it when the finger points towards themself.
Nothing proves this theory more than our obsession with the "cheater dejour", the newly fallen, iconic sports figure who recently admitted using performance enhancers, or who was outed by some secret government probe.
Why is the revelation that our favorite son used at some point in his or her (yes her) career such a shock to us? And for the love of Sammy Sosa, whose fault is it really? Who caused all of this? The answer is, we did.
Yes sports fanatics, our insatiable lust for bigger, stronger, faster athletes made this monster. My hero Greg Maddux, and his pitching partner Tommy Glavine had a local commercial for the Braves that said "Chicks dig the long ball". We paid billions at the gate to see McGwire, Kingman and Conseco make a mockery of the home run in the '80's.
We celebrated the ferocity and the skill of Lyle Alzado in the '70's. We marveled at the the ease with which Florence Griffith Joyner glided around the track. Okay, speculation on Flo-Jo, but you get the point.
We are definitely to blame for things to get to the point they are at today. What about the general Managers, owners, coaches, trainers, or even commissioners? They share in the shame of this era in professional sports.
In 1963 Sid Gillman, head coach of the San Diego Chargers, recruited Alvin Roy to design and implement a weight training program for his team. On one front, this was revolutionary for all sports, dispelling the notion that weight training was detrimental to the athlete.
On another front, Gillman, Roy, and some creative doctors introduced steroids to professional sports at the institutional level.
Cornhusker fans boasted the fact that there were two types of "buckets" available for their players in the world class weight rooms during the '80's. One bucket held hand chalk, and the other contained Creatine.
Yes, Nebraska Football was way ahead of the rest of the sports world in terms of weight training and nutritional supplements. While Bill Romanowski made it popular, suffice it to say that he did not create the concept of supplements that enhanced his performance.
Football first banned steroids in 1983. It first suspended players for a positive test in 1989. Strangely, they did not make mandatory testing until the late 90's. Baseball follows a similar genealogy in testing and suspension.
Owners turned a blind eye to the epidemic. No one cared. More home runs means more butts in the seats, means more money at the gate and in the merchandise window. The NFL combines gained relevance because the measurables were now most important in selecting the top draft pick.
The forty-yard dash times of yester-year gave way to the 4.18 of Joey Galloway. The bench press was measured against Tonay Mandarich and 500 lbs. No one cared. Olympic records fell like rain drops. Ben Johnson comes to mind, but still, no one cared.
So who is to blame? We are. We profited from their success. We cheerfully watched as the Home Run Chase went on. We adored Marion Jones for her grace and speed. We sold our franchises for billions of dollars. We sued the players unions for more money. We secured lucrative television contracts for our teams and leagues.
Yes, the players had a choice to make. Not all made the right one. But do we care now because we believe it to be wrong or dangerous, or because we don't want to accept our share of the blame for creating this monster?
104 players tested positive in 2003. That means three players from each team in MLB. That means almost 14 percent of all the players on the active rosters that year. Should we condemn A-Rod, Barry Bonds, or Roger Clemens?
No. Condemn our lust for more.
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