Dangerous Expectations: Are Steroids, Security, and Health Care Linked?

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst IOctober 9, 2009

As Peter Griffin would say, "what grinds my gears" today is an industry of supplements and steroids (not the same, but similar) that has run wild with ridiculous promises.

This article is by no means a true essay, because I won't use standard reference notation. Instead, I will simply say that I have gathered my information from a variety of news articles, John Basedow (who promotes PEDs), and Vince DelMonte (who does not promote PEDs).


A Sports Culture of Deception

One example has been the ever annoying and incessant ads on MySpace, "I Got Ripped in 4 Weeks." These ads, like cigarette ads, target kids, teens, and adults to believe that you can look like some idiot that probably downed a dangerous cocktail of steroids and fat burners with no exercise involved.

The reality about many fitness magazines is this: The same companies that sell supplements and other phony diets that are often only dangerous to your health and hard on your wallet publish most fitness magazines.

The publishers do not profit from the magazines; they profit from the supplements and diets they sell by lying to you with ridiculous ads.

At one time, Hollywood made movies to make smoking look cool. Nowadays, many Hollywood movies do the same thing with steroids to make actors and actresses look, well, unnaturally better than they normally would.

The only difference is, they don't commonly admit to using dangerous drugs like steroids. Surely, they do so under professional guidance, while audiences are led to strive for something that they really do not have the means to legally achieve.

Technically, if you have enough money to buy prescriptions from an unscrupulous medical practitioner, then technically you have not violated the law.

Look at Carrot Top—I need not say more. He gives Insane Clown Posse a completely new meaning.

With that said, it did not violate the law to smoke in movies either, but it was still wrong because it promoted a dangerous substance.

However, shelves at many stores are stocked with products that promise great results for people eager to believe that the product will work. In fact, many so-called supplements are mixed with ground-up rocks.

In the NFL, players such as Kevin Williams and Pat Williams (no relation) have gone to court after the NFL suspended them. They used an over the counter supplement, StarCaps, that contained a substance banned by the NFL.

The Williamses have argued that as members of the Minnesota Vikings they are subject to the workplace laws of Minnesota, not the national office of the NFL.

This case then brings about interesting questions on the topic of not only states' rights vs. the rights of a corporation, but also the issue that the supplement industry is widely unregulated and engages in what is tantamount to false advertising, not free speech.

Recently, Roger Goodell decided not to suspend Will Smith and Charles Grant of the Saints, along with former teammate Deuce McAlister, for using an over the counter supplement that contained a banned substance.

I certainly appreciated Goodell's statement that he was not prepared to suspend players for conduct similar to that of the Williamses, because of their legal case.

It is one thing for a company like the NFL to impose standards on what players can and cannot ingest, but the underlying problem is the lack of regulation in the supplement industry.

It is not the NFL's fault that the supplement industry can print anything on the labels for supplements, make money until the product is pulled, and then start all over again.


Is Health Care Reform a Form of National Security?

You or I probably cannot stop that industry, though I believe that a US government that has taken up the issue of health care should be more concerned with the issue of charlatan practitioners that are just legal drug dealers. They only help enable a culture that creates a false image, leading people to take dangerous substances.

With that said, if there ever were an industry to tax for the purposes of a health care program, it would be the supplement industry.

I generally dislike discussing my medical history because it sounds like complaining, but I think the experience I have had is an important one.

As someone who has suffered from breathing problems for most of his life, I led myself to try over the counter supplements and even protein shakes in order to assist with my metabolism. 

On top of it, after I had initially lost 40 pounds naturally between March of 2002 and November of 2003, I started experiencing night sweats that likely resulted from infections due to breathing problems.

After all, steroids were meant for people with breathing problems, and I was only taking an over the counter supplement. What could go wrong?

I did not take anything illegal and sought only to improve my health and figured that appearance was only incidental, yet the result was likely negative. I would eventually develop cataracts. The exact cause is uncertain, but I do believe that was the cause.

Today, it is obvious to me that the conditions that afflicted me for many years could have been corrected had they been addressed when I was younger, and that part of the reason they went uncorrected is that my parents did not have health insurance.

Those conditions in part contributed to my fiercely independent streak, because if I depended on what people thought of me, I would be dead. Thus, incessant questions were just necessary to survive. 

I do not claim to be right always. I just know that those questions motivate me, and that if I relied on the perceptions of perfection that others have, I would have wasted away.

I also realize that I must audit many of the things I say, because frankly, I am prone to say things I would like to take back. For those of you regular readers, I will state possibly to my own detriment that I do wonder if I am afflicted by Tourette's or Asperger's.

Problem is...I do not know, because I cannot afford health care. Thus, if this blog somehow motivates people to put aside their opinions of me and start advocating for needed change in health care, then so be it. 

That would not be to my detriment.


Remember Dunkirk

I also wonder how many willing applicants have been disqualified by the US Military because they had conditions that could have been corrected at a younger age.

During the Second World War, there was a motto, "Remember Dunkirk," which was the British escape from Axis forces in Europe in 1940. 

I cite that because, British soldiers at Dunkirk went on to invade Normandy on D-Day in 1944. I cite that because many of those soldiers survived thanks to the medical innovation of penicillin by Alexander Fleming.

Say what you will about British involvement in WWII, but it is clear that medical science played a huge role in the Allied success in the Second World War.

Today, I wonder how many soldiers that want to return to fight could have been medically cleared had stem cell science been developed by now.


In a question, that evokes a new meaning to Catch-22...

What if you have a nation filled with people unfit for military service because they neglected their health, partly because they didn't know better, didn't know why they should care, didn't think it would affect them, and couldn't afford it anyway?

To answer that question honestly, you will see that health care reform is national security and that the sports culture in this country (through false images and steroids) has enabled a generation of people unfit to serve.

Thus, are you willing to risk the security of your life, simply because some idiot wants to run around a parking lot while drunk and become unfit to serve through reckless self-indulgence, or because athletes have raised the bar to an unnatural high that people are led to think, 'Why bother, why try?'


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