With the news of NL MVP Ryan Braun’s positive PED result and possible 50-game suspension, the purity vultures are sure to act the part of offseason Debbie Downers. They show up every time an athlete tests positive for drugs, but their presence is even more noticeable when it comes to baseball players.
Tears practically well up in their eyes as they talk about how the game that defines America has been tarnished. No solutions are offered, and no true discussion about how we reached this point or what the game is destined to become can be found.
Instead, purists only offer a merry-go-round of melodrama to satisfy their own self-righteousness. They indulge in their perceived lifelong perfection and consider their comments as coming from outside the bubble of baseball.
Nationally recognized sports writers and analysts who fit this description should be smart enough to recognize key differences between the game itself and the players, corporations and ticket sales that dictate its success.
People cheat and lie. Athletes are people. Athletes cheat and lie. Critical reasoning 101.
By putting regular people on pedestals as tall as the ones in baseball, we turn athletes into larger-than-life figures and put them at an immediate disadvantage from a morality standpoint.
Once they reach those heights of superstardom, incredible specimens like Braun have nowhere to go but down if they are caught doing anything but smiling and hitting home runs.
But I am not bothered by drug use in sports for a few reasons.
Huge contracts are thrown at players and represent a commitment to perform at incredibly high levels. Levels probably not attainable by the all-natural human physique. If Braun, or any other player, determines drugs are needed to reach maximum performance, that should be their prerogative.
Some may argue this logic is not fair to players who make conscious efforts to stay clean. To which I say, "Too bad."
If you have a job, or even if you’re a student, think about your co-workers and classmates. You have seen someone cutting corners to get ahead. If you can maintain your integrity and keep up without resorting to unethical behavior, congratulations.
But don’t be so naive to think everyone around you shares that integrity. Life is not a level playing field, and people you know, even trust, are trying to gain an edge in sometimes unsavory ways.
Baseball is merely an extension of this fact.
Then there’s the price of supporting professional sports. When I spend $40 (and that’s cheap) on a ticket and get a beer and hot dog, I’m in for $60. When I sit down and look around, I am inundated by ads in every visible space of the stadium. Every half inning changeover is sponsored by a promotion or toothpaste smile cam.
For that kind of money and corporate intensity, I better see the best talent possible. If that means performance-enhanced, so be it.
Lastly, it’s not my body and it’s not my life. Every athlete who takes drugs has to deal with it. I don’t and neither do the purists or anyone else.
The athletes alone will have to suffer the physical consequences of drug use. If they are willing to put their bodies through unnatural growth and risk long-term damage for the possibility of more production, all power to them.
Purists are purists for one simple reason—they don’t have a $145.5 million contract to live up to.
Or a $254 million contract in Albert Pujols’s case. Where’s the incentive for Pujols to stay clean with that kind of money coming his way?
And when will we, as a baseball-loving nation, accept the fact drugs in the game are here to stay?