Sports Steroid Scandals

Saw this on facebook and thought it made some awesome points and is pretty in line with my thinking on the subject. I didn't write it.

My 2 cents on the steroid scandal in baseball (and professional sports, for that matter):

1. The people clamoring for lifetime bans for offenders should consider how vehemently they would object to dismissal from their jobs for the use of caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines, and off-label prescription drug use. These are performance-enhancing drugs, it's just that white-collar performance isn't measured in terms of batting averages. Why is it outright cheating in baseball, and an accepted expediency in the workplace?

2. PEDs don't make you a better baseball (or football, or basketball) player in of themselves. I could go on A-Rods regimen tomorrow, it doesn't mean I'll be able to hit a 95-mph fastball, turn a double play, or lay down a decent bunt. Those are skills acquired over the course of a LIFETIME. PEDs confer competitive advantages because they allow the athletes using them to train harder, longer, and recover faster from injuries. Again, their livelihoods are predicated on their athleticism, and their ability to reproduce their performances over several seasons. These skills often decline with age and are compounded by injury. You think competition for your job is tough? The career spans for most professional athletes is <5 years. Imagine if an accountant/writer/paralegal suffering from early onset dementia could take a drug to combat or reverse the effects (and thus remain in their respective professions), would you be so quick to label them cheaters?

3. Segueing from point 2, I think the collective outrage over PEDs in sports smacks of narcissism. "He took steroids, THAT is why he hit all those home runs." I'm not sure whether this sentiment is attributable to a general ignorance as to what steroids actually do, or the misguided belief that the average person could achieve similar feats if they used PEDs. Wrong. Just, wrong. First, this grossly inaccurate and overly-romantic notion of a "level playing field" is ludicrous. Johnny Beer-League does not play on a similar field, and to infer that he could if he used PEDs is similarly ludicrous. Thousands of hours of practice (and some decent genetics) is the primary unaccounted-for variable in the simplistic, sanctimonious, and self-serving argument that has been made thus far by the anti-PED crusaders. Second, steroids can augment, but not compensate for a complete lack of talent. If Johnny Beer-League goes on a cycle, he's not going to be drafted by the Yankees as a result (the A's maybe). Pharmaceuticals can give you a rock-solid bone-dog, but there's no drug in existence that will compensate for 2-plus decades of dedicated training. Just as taking Viagra isn't going to turn an over-zealous frat boy into Don Juan DeLaNooch, an all-star beer league softball player won't be an eventual first-ballot HOF'er because of a poorly implemented Test/Clen cycle. Skill, in both examples, takes years to acquire and showcase (and both involve pitching and wood, literally and figuratively speaking, lolz).

Note, I don't use, have never used, nor am I advocating for the use of steroids. I'm just tired of listening to idiotic statements made by pundits who are still pining for their JV glory days. Steroids have a legitimate medical purpose in some cases. Perhaps instead of embarking on some witch hunt, the governing bodies of major sports should sit down and discuss which drugs under what circumstances might be permissible. Stiffer penalties? Fine — but make them uniform. Promote cooperation and transparency instead of incentivizing unethical athletes and drug-makers to develop newer and better PEDs to stay ahead of testing methods. When multi-million dollar contracts are at stake, you're not going to discourage athletes from using PEDs by threatening draconian penalties alone. It's amazing though that millions of armchair QBs can only be induced to leave the couch if they can climb atop a soapbox and excoriate the athletes they will never be by demeaning them as nothing more than chemically-enhanced cheaters. Better grab some coffee and Adderall, you got a deadline to meet! —

Hey AdrianK,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have very similar feelings on the subject.