I feel that it is time to truly address the root of the problem that compels the media to continue making performance enhancing drugs breaking news. After hearing the "purity of the game" argument, the "be a good role model for the sake of the children" plea, or any of the other numerous angles that have been used to garner anti-doping support from the masses, I am left with one question.
Why is this just now an issue?
The media has used the issue of steroids in MLB to begin a modern day inquisition. To the extent that the federal government has created special committees to investigate this pressing issue which is obviously detrimental to our entire society and future way of life.
The majority of the sports world is aware that athletes still use and have used some form of performance enhancing drug (legal or illegal) since the inception of professional sports. It is all in how you define performance enhancing.
Ancient Olympians went on all meat binges before the games and some went so far as to ingest sheep or goat testicles. Red meat is full of creatine and vitamin-B both of which enhance performance. Animal "nads" were nothing more than a primitive way to get a testosterone boost.
Looking in more recent history, the evolution of performance enhancing drugs has taking many forms as it transitioned from alcoholic beverages laced with cocaine to modern day growth hormones.
More modern steroids found their way into the Olympics as early as the 1950s, when the Soviet Union began to dominate. By the inception of the modern NFL, different forms of steroids or whatever pill you want were readily available to athletes.
Ephedrine is a "performance enhancing drug" that is now regulated. Many players used it to boost their heart rate which increases adrenaline level and has several positive effects on your ability to push yourself longer, harder, and increase your focus. Should we now go back and delete all the achievements of those athletes as well?
Additional arguments could be made for several other legal substances that players continue to take in order to assist in recovery from exercises or in the performance of sports, such as: caffeine, creatine, pain relievers, muscle relaxers, and many more......even alcohol (in moderation) can have positive effects on some sports because it takes the "edge off."
Don't believe me, just ask John Daly or most billiards professionals.
These are accepted facts of which most sports enthusiasts are well aware. It is naive to claim this is the steroids area of baseball with no legitimate way to discern past players involvement in some sort of performance enhancing measure (most of which would likely be illegal today).
Where do we draw the line?
As long as Congress stays involved, why stop there? Are novels or songs any less great because they were inspired by alcohol or drugs? Should we start stripping away Pulitzer Prizes and Grammies as well?
Of course not, so ask yourself what the real issue is behind the ongoing media outcry to place an asterisk next to a lot of truly great athletic feats?
Some believe it is media backlash to MLB's reluctance to instill a viable steroid abuse policy. After the NFL created their policy in 1987, MLB became the last major American sports organization without one. So, the keepers of the gate to Cooperstown (sportswriters) felt compelled to take up arms ever so slowly against this emerging travesty to justice.
It's common knowledge that after McGwire was found with some form of "andro" in his locker during the home run derby year against Sammy Sosa, the media cranked up their efforts and began the controversy that we see today.
However, the crusade has taken many shapes over the past few years. All of a sudden its news to everyone that steroids are a part of professional athletics. The media vilifies players for wanting to be bigger, faster, stronger, but barely touches on the leadership that fostered the environment. The officials of MLB are as much to blame for the current issues as anyone.
The media feels that if MLB had taken a stonger stance against steroid abuse the problem would have ceased. Well, the Olympic committee has a pretty solid policy and it still doesn't stem the problem. The fact is that MLB is not a game. It is a business that requires a fan base and nothing fills the stands like big offensive performances. We all like the occasional “No-No”, but there is a reason the All-Star game features a home-run derby.
That said, there is no real incentive for MLB to slow down the progress of the game. Even if that progress is a result of chemically assisted athletes. Furthermore, fans are not going to stop watching the game because of this media-spun "new era" of baseball.
The media, however, will continue to cry that an injustice is being done and MLB should air all of their dirty laundry that occurs behind closed doors.
But, for what reason?
100 convictions and life-time banishments will not change the fact that performance enhancing substances (in some form or another) will always be a part of MLB and all of sports.
What good comes from us knowing the private lives of professional athletes? It only goes to feed our obsession with living vicariously through others. I think some even get a twisted sense of satisfaction to see these superstars falter. Undoubtedly, they were their high school paper editor that never played sports but was stuffed in a trash can once just before the star QB stole his girlfriend.
It is time to call a spade a spade. The sporting media needs to quit trying to create outrage. I, as a fan, could not personally care less. I realize that a lot of great players have played clean, but a lot of others have been assisted by some form of performance enhancing drug. So, in all, the game is no less tainted in my eyes now than it was 20 years ago.
What's next? Is someone going break the news that professional wrestlers or past Mr. Olympias were doping? Say it ain't so, Joe!!!!
This is a problem that should be taken out of the hands of the federal government who seem content to waste time, energy, and untold tax dollars pursuing something that is far less pressing than the current state of the economy. This issue should be handled internally by MLB (as it truly only concerns them) and the criminal court system if players are in violation of actual laws.
I don't advise the use of any illegal substance and would caution most about the use of some legal substances. However, in the end, its a personal decision. If it violates an established employer-employee standard or a law then that person should be allowed his day in court and punished appropriately. If the public feels otherwise, they don't have to support the game.
We are so quick to burn the A-Rods' and Michael Phelps' of the world at the stake solely because of a media-induced fear that we (as parents) are incapable of rearing our children with the values that it is not okay to cheat to get ahead, either on the field-of-play or in a boardroom.
If you're worried about the children, why not focus on being good parents and true role models for them. Let them understand the dangers of doing any drugs, but also pass on the positive aspects of athletics. It still takes hard work, dedication, and selflessness to be successful at team sports.
I'd worry less about the actions of others and focus more on what message we are sending to our children as we judge others more critically than we judge ourselves?
None among us are perfect, yet we feel compelled to highlight on the grandest stages the faults of others while trying to rationalize it as anything other than what it is.......
It is nothing more than disingenuous outrage used for profit by some and as a vessel of transference by others to make up for our own inadequacies in life.
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