Alright Mitchell: Eat this.
Steroids are everywhere. Their presence in sports, especially football and baseball, are unstoppable. Punish as many athletes as you want, try to make examples of childhood heroes, but you're not going to stop anything.
Athletes will always strive to enhance their game. And steroids will continue to be harder and harder to detect. That's just how science works. Just like athletes they will always evolve into something greater.
So what's the solution?
In my opinion, it's not the regulation of athletes. It's the regulation of the game itself.
If commissioners put more effort into regulating the game rather than punishing those who play, eventually the need for and appeal of steroids may become a thing of the past. Make the wall farther back in baseball, for example. Change the collision rules in football.
In football's dirty twin sister, rugby, rules are constantly evolving as the sport gets rougher and injuries add up. Because rugby players don't wear pads, there are very specific rules about ways to hit an opposing player so that both bodies are guarded.
These rules ensure that hits are based on skill, not size. A six-foot-something kid under 200 lbs. can put some serious hurt on an oncoming truck. Sports should be about skill, not brawn, and the only way to preserve that is for commissioners to set guidelines and rules that ensure the purity of the game.
The real problem we face today is the trickle-down effect where steroids are entering our high schools in a variety of sports including football and wrestling. But if the media had nothing to report in terms of celeb athletes juicing themselves with every "outing" the league provides, younger kids can strive to be like the players they look up to without thinking about steroids and coaches wouldn't see a need to encourage the use of drugs but rather work harder on fundamentals as the game changes.
This week has been a terrible one for baseball, with the announcement that Sammy Sosa tested positive for steroids in 2003. Put this on top of this decade's lineup of Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro and you've basically taken a 10-year-olds baseball card collection and thrown it out the window.
But suppose A-Rod had never been outed. Would his young followers think steroids were the reason for his home run performances (actually maybe A-Rod isn't the best example)? Or would they rather preserve the image of an athlete who works hard, just like their gym teachers used to tell them?
The answer is I don't really know. The idea that our greats succeeded because of drugs is already out there, widely known, and overplayed. But perhaps if we represented the new generation of athletes differently things can change.
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