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Steroids and Shrinkage: How One Commerical Can Open a Million Eyes

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Steroids and Shrinkage: How One Commerical Can Open a Million Eyes
I get home from work after a hard day at the office.  My shoes fly across the room, the fridge is raided for any sign of beer that's less than two years old, and I collapse onto the couch like a kid who just sniffed too much paint.

Ah, spring is here: Baseball is in full swing.  I pop on the tube to see what games are on.

A's v. Mariners; Giants v. Padres.  So, as any true fan of Bay Area sports would do, I flip to the Mets-Cardinals game.

But as I scan the screen for Carlos Beltran and Albert Pujols, I instead find myself watching...

Four balls sitting on a locker room bench—a basketball, a volleyball, a football and a baseball.
 
The four balls are noticeably different sizes (obviously, but just in case you forgot): The basketball is the largest, followed by the volleyball, followed by the football, followed lastly, of course, by the baseball. 

The narrator then reads:

"Steroids can really damage your body. (football deflates)

"They can cause tendons to tear... (volleyball deflates)

"...and bones to stop growing...damage kidneys...destroy the liver... (baseball deflates)

"even cause heart attacks and strokes.
 
"Not to mention... (basketball deflates) 
 
"Something else they can do to a guy's body."

After a quick plug for drugfree.org, the commercial is over.  It's a 30 second spot—barely long enough to register.  But for whatever reason, it made quite an impression on me. 

So much of an impression that I TIVO'd the damn thing 10 times just to write it down here accurately.

What exactly are these guys trying to say?

In English: steroids are bad for you—you being a man and all.  They can do all sorts of physical harm to your body, and can even shrink your balls.  There I said it: Shrink your balls.  Visit drugfree.org so you can find out more about how steroids shrink your balls.

True enough, right?  I mean—unless we're getting our health advice from Jose Canseco, steroids ARE indeed bad for your health, particularly if you're just a kid.  And, as the wisdom goes, they can also shrink your balls.

Then again, going on the juice might also make you millions of dollars as a professional athlete. 

Indeed, there comes a time in every little slugger's life when he's faced with the difficult decision of whether to shoot a needle into his butt and turn himself into the Incredible Hulk...or to take the higher road and pursue a career as a coal miner, but at least be able to have a few children before dying of black lung disease.

Mood swings, or black lung disease.  Shoe deals, or shoveling coal in the darkness. 
 
What can I say?  Life is full of tough decisions—and sometimes, we need to steer the children of America in the right direction. 
 
And if I have a little kid some day, and he hits like Mays and runs like Hayes—well, hell, I'm going to have to tell him to do what a man's gotta do:
 
And that, of course, is to juice up.
 
Kidding aside, the point of the commercial (I think) is just that: Talented kids with few options in life may choose to inject steroids into their bloodstreams so they can become better baseball players, and perhaps one day play in the big leagues like their juiced-up heroes.  And if we—we being...well, I'm not exactly sure who—don't do something about it, then our country is gonna go to hell in a handbasket faster than you can say BALCO.
 
I don't have a problem with the message; seriously I don't (hence why I plugged drugfree.org three times already in this article).  What I do have a problem with, however, is the marketing strategy behind the commercial. 
 
Why save the balls (and the basketball) for the end?    
  
I mean COME ON: We've already been told that steroids can cause strokes and heart attacks.  But that's nothing!  THEY CAN ALSO SHRINK YOUR BALLS!
 
But wait, did you ever stop and think about the fact that YOU WON'T HAVE ANY BALLS TO SHRINK IF YOU'VE ALREADY DIED OF A HEART ATTACK?

If I had one suggestion for the people at drugfree.org, it would be to stop assuming that kids are so stupid.  This idea that some teenager is going to stop taking steroids—not because you warned him about dying of a heart attack, but because it's going to lower his sperm count—is just insane.  And if the kid is indeed stupid enough to be more concerned with the sexual side effects than he is with the risk of his heart stopping, then hell:
 
He's probably dumb enough to miss the message altogether and continue juicing.
 
Maybe it's super-duper clever, and I'm the one being idiotic.  Maybe drugfree.org has empirical evidence that this stuff actually works—that little sluggers all over the globe will decide to do things the honest way and go work in the coal mines after seeing this commercial.  But maybe, just maybe...

I'm right.

And if that's the case, I kindly request that you let me watch my damn baseball game.
 

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