Steroids: Should They Stay Or Should They Go?

+
By: Zach Martin and Adam White

In the mind of every sports fan there is always a moral dilemma.  Should changes be made to professional sports to enhance the entertainment or should changes be made in sports to regulate what is right from wrong. 

 

Welcome to the world of PEDs.

Should professional sports continue crack down and ban all illegal substances for the purity of the game or should they allow them to avoid an extreme amount of future conflicts and let the players decide their own fate? 

 

As a fan, it is almost as if there is a Devil on one shoulder and an Angel on the other.  The Devil, who wouldn’t think for a second about banning illegal substances or the Angel who firmly believes that every game should be clean of drugs, and players should achieve their success solely on their raw talent. 

 

The constant nagging back and forth between the Devil and the Angel have you at a loss for words.  There are so many points to be made with each argument that your mind is spinning in circles. 

 

However, when it comes down to it there always has to be one winner and loser in an argument.  Where do you stand, the Devil or the Angel?

 

Devil

 

Ahem, excuse me!  Is this even a question?  The reason we watch sports are for the entertainment.  Why else would we crave for the overtime game, buzzer-beater, and walk-off home run?  If it weren’t for entertainment, sports would as boring as baseball game that finishes with a score of 1-0.

 

 

Performance-Enhancing Drugs (PEDs).  Three words that have been talked about almost continuously throughout the last couple years when we assess a player’s production in sports.  Being illegal in every major sport (including amateur sports), PEDs still emerge as a major problem while trying to assess who is playing the game the correct way and who is cheating their way to an enormous contract and fame.

 

Considering that sports test so regularly and the consequences are rather severe, why is it that PEDs still emerge as a problem?

 

According to www.Baseball-Reference.com’s journalist Neil Paine here is how the four major American sports stack up in terms of annual PED testing and the punishments that follow when a player tests positive.

 

Major League Baseball

 

Test Frequency: 2 times per year.

Every Player Tested: No.

1st Offense: 31% of schedule.

2nd Offense: 62% of schedule.

3rd Offense: Lifetime Ban.

 

National Football League

 

Test Frequency: At least one time per year.

Every Player Tested: Yes.

1st Offense: 25% of schedule.

2nd Offense: 1 Season.

 

National Basketball Association

 

Test Frequency: Up to 4 times per year.

Every Player Tested: No.

1st Offense: 12% of schedule.

2nd Offense: 30% of schedule.

3rd Offense: 1 season.

4th Offense: Lifetime Ban.

 

National Hockey League

 

Test Frequency: Up to 3 times per year.

Every Player Tested: No.

1st Offense: 24% of schedule.

2nd Offense: 73% of schedule.

3rd Offense: Lifetime Ban.

 

As you can see, major professional sports do not take this situation lightly.  However, even with the ongoing testing throughout every season, it is almost impossible to conclude that the playing field for every sport is completely unscathed.  There will always be players who search every possible way to find a loophole to the system and create new ways that will benefit their production on the field.  With that being said, are professional sports taking the wrong approach by making Performance-Enhancing Drugs illegal?

 

Would it be preposterous to tell you that I say yes?  Hear me out on this.

 

Let the MLB be my main focus point, considering the many allegations that have taken place over the past year.

 

Since the MLB started testing for PEDs in 2003, there have been 43 (and counting) players who have been suspended.  Of those 43 players, 17 were All-Stars, 6 Silver-Slugger Award Winners, 3 Gold Glove Award Winners, and 3 MVP Winners. 

 

One big name after the other fell into the wrath of the MLB, whether it was because of a snitch or relentless digging by investigators.  Nonetheless, it began uproar with not only the fans, but the players as well.

 

Players who did not succumb to cheating for positive gains must’ve felt like they were dealt the short end of the stick.  How would you feel if you were a back-up positional player your whole career to a Major League “great” like Sammy Sosa, just to find out that he cheated to achieve his success?  Meanwhile, you obeyed the rules your whole career and the only exposure you had to the field was during warm ups.

I can imagine a pretty hostile environment once the locker room finds out who was cheating to make their way to Major League fame, can’t you?  Raised tension with the players isn’t the only reason I think Major League Baseball is making a mistake.

 

By legalizing Performance-Enhancing Drugs, you ensure that the playing field is 100% equal.  As previously stated before, players will always find their way to cheat no matter what the rules against it are, so why not take the leap of faith and let the players decide their own fate?

 

Even if PEDs were legal, you would have players who would still never even think about taking the drugs, but that’s their own prerogative!  If they don’t want to enhance their abilities, then they will have to suffer the possibility of being another run-in-the-mill professional baseball player that everyone will forget about less than five years after their retirement.

 

Hall of Fame voting would even be easier.  Instead of constant debate on who took what, the questions would instead be who achieved what?  The sad part of the Hall of Fame voting is that baseball players who were even pronounced not guilty might not make the Hall of Fame just because their name was involved in an investigation involving PEDs.

 

Roger Clemens; ring a bell?  How could it not?  Arguably one of the best Major League pitchers of all time, who was pronounced innocent from taking PEDs, might not even make the Hall of Fame just because he was involved in a major speculation.

 

Of course there’s going to be an argument that players who were inducted into the Hall of Fame years ago are already in a different category, because PEDs were unheard of back then.  However, how can you possibly categorize players on how “true” and “pure” they are just because of the era they played in?  The game of baseball has been modified over the years for the advancement of play whether people come to recognize it or not.

 

There have been numerous rule changes, racial integration that allowed even more skilled players to enter the league, and in 1969 the pitcher’s mound was lowered five inches!  Do you know how much more of an advantage that is for hitters?  This isn’t even mentioning the numerous amounts of players that now have strict strength and nutrition plans to enhance their abilities as much as possible.

 

The game will always be ever changing as time passes on.  There is no possible way that any group of players, from any era, can compare to one another even with PEDs out of the equation.  But, as sad as it may be, judgment will always loom every year the voting takes place whether we like it or not.

 

I must be crazy, the legalization of PEDs?  You probably think I’m out of my mind.  Have you ever thought of what it would do for the business of baseball, though?

 

As a fan myself, I watch baseball for the dominance, the entertainment!  There is nothing more exiting about a monstrous homerun or numerous strikeouts by an opposing pitcher.  In the “Steroid Era” that’s what we had, day in and day out.

 

Numbers skyrocketed and so did the attention being brought in from all areas towards the MLB in a positive way. 

 

Referring to www.bleacherreport.com, between the years 1995-2003, home runs came easy.  In those 9 years, 7 of them had ten or more players hitting more than 40 home runs in a season.  Power was off the charts, pitching became extremely difficult, and the fans loved it.

 

The year 1998 featured one of the greatest home run chases in MLB history and one of the most interesting times for all of sports.  Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa each were chasing a home run record Roger Maris had held for 37 years.  Even I remember watching the games and I was only 5!  Jersey sales were escalating and people were tuning in from all over just to see what was to happen next. 

 

Don’t you want that excitement back?  In the past 3 years attendance for MLB games has dropped continuously (Sports Illustrated).  It is almost as if everyone is yearning for amazing feats and broken records, for isn’t that why we watch sports in the first place?  The excitement, fascination, and unpredictability are the types of things that will always have fans at the edge of their seat.  That is why sports are so unique; you don’t ever know what will happen next.

 

Now I know that legalizing PEDs isn’t the most ideal plan, but it seems as if that is the only way to completely make things worry-free and fair.  According to ESPN, $1.7 billion has been spent on PED testing since 2003.  To me, that is $1.7 billion too much.

 

Yes, steroids cause future health problems and injuries for players.  Of course it will have a huge impact on younger generations when they see that professionals are using steroids and they want to follow in their path.  However, from the fans’ standpoint, the legalization of PEDs would do wonders. 

 

Why not leave it in the player’s hands to decide their own fate?  The game would never be more interesting.  No speculation, no arguments, no conflict, just sports, pure competitive sports.

 

Records, legacies, championships, are all waiting to be written.

 

PEDs: Not Now, Not Ever

 

Angel

Are you serious? Why would you want to allow PEDs? Sports used to be pure! They have so much staying power and influence nowadays! Shouldn’t we being teaching our kids that cheating is not okay? They will get harmed if we continue with this madness! We already have enough balloon animals we don’t need humans to be made into ones too.

 

Around the world and around the country the acronym PED has become synonymous with one thing; Performance Enhancing Drugs. Not only have PED’s began to shape our athletes they’ve began to shape our outlook on sports as a whole.

 

Nowadays anytime a player does anything remotely well for a period of time it is automatically assumed that he does PED’s. This isn’t happening in just baseball, but it’s happening in football, basketball, soccer, you name it, people are questioning it.

 

It’s not only unfortunate for the games these athletes play, but for the athletes themselves many of which have done no wrong, other than be great at their craft. Take for example Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers a man who won the Triple Crown for the first time in 45 years. Unfortunately instead of lauding him for his great achievement the first thing anyone wants to do is find a reason to place an asterisk next to his name.

 

I for one would love to see the day when I don’t have to turn on Sportscenter and have to see another steroid allegation making news. It is a turn off to the sports fan when it seems as if the number of alleged steroid users has ballooned tenfold. Although only alleged, not actually convicted this title can be crippling for athlete and fan. These titles forever tarnishing a reputation no matter the outcome of the allegations.

 

Baseball is the mecca for steroid users and steroid news. From 1998-present it seems as if once a year there’s another story about someone using steroids. For someone who has played, been a fan of and has loved the game since an early age this has become extremely frustrating. No replay (until this year), no penalties, no second guessing, Baseball in its truest form is the purest sport on the planet. Unfortunately, because of steroids the pure white napkin that could be used to represent the sport is now almost un-recognizable as it is has become tarnished with the grime of steroids.

 

Take for example you having a class with someone you grew up with all your life and thought the world of them, but they were then caught cheating in class. Would your perception of them change? Absolutely! Now think how a sports fan who invests hundreds even thousands of dollars and hours into a franchise only to find out the that a star player who played against their team and beat them would feel. Betrayed? That’s a nice word for the feelings they would have.

 

Living in Arizona my whole life and growing up watching the Diamondbacks I know this feeling all too well. In 2011 when the Diamondbacks made it to the post season their first round series was against the Milwaukee Brewers. Unbeknownst to them on that team was a cheater and a liar in the form of Ryan Braun. Braun would go on to tear the Diamondbacks apart that series culminating with the game winning hit in the deciding game 5. The fan base in Arizona was outraged when they had found out the man who cost them post season success did it because he was cheating.

 

Integrity. A word that this great nation was founded upon, yet today not only are we swaying from it societally, but athletically as well.  Once a nation built on a foundation of athletic success coming from 5 am workouts and endless amounts of blood, sweat and tears have been replaced by syringes and synthetic drugs.

 

Our hard work never hurt us, yet the easy way out nowadays does nothing but that. Anabolic Steroids the most common form of steroid used in the sports industry have a plethora of harmful side effects.  Some of these include, tumors of the liver, liver cancer, or peliosis hepatis, a form of liver disease, have occurred during long-term, high-dose therapy with anabolic steroids. Although these effects are rare, they can be very serious and may cause death. (Mayo Clinic) Steroid users have suffered from withdraw symptoms, and may experience psychological effects that range from aggression and irritability, to depression, moodiness, paranoia, and thoughts of suicide, according to psychologist Dr. Jack Darkes. Steroids are not only hurting our sports, but hurting our athletes. One of the most well-known effects is the effect on Testosterone. The natural production of testosterone is controlled by another set of hormones called gonadotrophins, which are released from the pituitary gland in the brain.  AAS use can throw this delicate system out of balance resulting in gonadotrophin suppression which can cause testicular atrophy. (Mayo Clinic)

 

Steroids should not be legal under any circumstances. Ever. Sure they may make the games more exciting and sure they may boost attendance in ballparks, but are these superficial numbers greater than a person’s wellbeing and integrity? In the eyes of a team’s CEO whose vision is clouded by green dollar signs these two things don’t matter, but in the eyes of a casual fan that is the only thing that matters.

 

This use of steroids have also had a trickledown effect through the many levels of competitive sports. According to the Center of Disease Control an estimated 660,000 students (14 to 17 years of age) who’ve admitted to steroid use as of the year 2005. It is truly mindboggling to think that kids as young as 14 begin injecting themselves with steroids leading themselves down a path of lifelong health issues.

 

More troubling statistics come to us via the Denisonian

•85% of our kids report they have never had a parent, teacher, or coach speak with them about the dangers of appearance and performance enhancing drugs

•Fastest growing user group are our high school girls

•Median Starting Age of Anabolic Androgenic Steroids:  15 years old

 

This number doesn’t include the folks who are unknowingly ingesting these drugs through spiked dietary supplements.

•Median Starting Age of Dietary Supplements:  10.8 years old

•20-25% of Over the Counter Dietary Supplements are spiked with Anabolic Steroids and Stimulants, many laboratories estimate those numbers are much higher

 

 

 

 

 

The sad part about all this is that our major sports leagues could put an end to this terrible cycle, but they chose not to. Sure a 50 game ban for a first time user seems harsh, but when you think about guys such as Melky Cabrera who are banned one season then sign a lucrative contract deal the next. The reward most times is greater than the risk of getting caught, which needs to be addressed. If baseball or any sport for that fact wanted to remove the use of steroids they would test every player 3 times a year and anyone who tested positive would receive a lifetime ban. It’s truly that simple and it’s time for the MLB to take a stand. It’s time for the NHL to take a stand. It’s time for the NBA to take a stand. It’s time for the NFL to take a stand.

 

It’s time that they did something for the players and not the dollar signs. It’s time to bring back the integrity and purity to the games. It’s time that playing by the rules should be the only way, after all that why rules were put in place. Steroid’s and PED’s their presence is now unwanted, their time is over and gone and it’s time that overarching changes are made and it starts at the top.

 

            The stakes have never been higher for change in the sports world. We have reached the precipice of the path and the decision is looming above us like a dark rain cloud. We must choose to either ban steroids altogether, or take the road less traveled upon and legalize steroids so there will be no more allegations or confusion of who should be in the hall of fame or who should not. This decision is bigger than picking your favorite singer on American Idol. Although that’s a big deal to some, make that many Americans, it ends up changing the life of one person, not a whole industry. Sports is the most overreaching business on earth, affecting people in the numbers unfathomable to many and uncountable by statisticians. Whenever this decision is brought down, be it tomorrow, a year from now, or ten years from now it will send earth shattering shockwaves throughout the industry. We have seen what player from Grambling State have done in the past week, now imagine a whole country banding together to enact change. Do you think that would go unnoticed? Absolutely not! The time to act is now, the time to stand up for what you believe in is now, and the time to change is now. So whose side are you going to be on? The Devil or the Angel? It all comes down to this. No pressure.

Locations

Sources

1 comments

 or create an account to join the discussion on Jurnid

More stories by Adam W.