Note: For most of the writing process involved in this piece, I chose to omit this story because I felt like it was covered by other stories on the list. Upon further reflection, I realized that I was not including it because I didn’t want to include it.
I do not like to think about steroids. I do not like to write about steroids. And that is precisely why it remains the biggest story in sports. It’s as much about being a fan as it is about being a player.
Steroids in baseball has tainted the soul of American Culture. Before 1998, baseball was deemed pure, an American manifestation of our national integrity. Baseball was our game and attached to it was a deep sense of national pride.
And now, amidst two wars most of the country doesn’t understand, a collapsing economy none of has seen before and an international community that doesn’t respect us, even our national pastime is filled with liars and cheats.
The problem with steroids, and the reason that steroids remains such a heart wrenching story in the media, is because the story reflects back on the country as a whole in addition to the fans that love the sport so much.
Without letting this become a diatribe against American culture, our once noble aim of living the American dream has long disappeared. In its place is a culture of those who take advantage of the system, who cut corners to get ahead, who have no qualms tossing integrity under the bus for a chance at stardom.
It’s not just the players, selfish or not, who are to blame. The media stood by while it happened. Major League Baseball, the Players Union, the owners, even the fans watched with glee as their once sacred sport turned into a video game manifestation of uber-strength and gargantuan moon shots.
I’m sad that the game isn’t what it used to be. I’m disappointed that the players chose to sacrifice my sport for the benefit of their numbers. But, more than anything, I’m ashamed that we created a culture in which it was necessary for these players to go to these lengths in order to be the best.
As a nation, we are so obsessed with finishing first, with winning at all costs and with one-upping ourselves, that we lose sight of playing the game for what it is.
That’s why steroids are so important in the sports world. It’s because of what the story represents for all of us. Our sports stars cheat the system because everything in our culture invites them to.