Steroids and professional sports, they go together like peanut butter and jelly don’t they? People might say, ha that’s funny. What people don’t realize is that it’s only funny because it’s true. Steroids are prevalent in every professional sport known to man, whether we want them to be or not. Now, I’m going to do my best to write this piece objectively, for if you ask me there is no right answer on how to handle this issue. I want to shed some light on the topic of steroids, while withholding my opinion, for now. I know steroids is a serious issue, but from the general public’s standpoint we will never know the whole truth of what transpires. And that right there is the problem. With the procedures the major sports have in place, there really is no surefire way to bring every steroid or performing enhancing drug user to justice. Psssst, want to know a secret? They don’t want you to know who’s using illegal drugs. They like it the way it is. By they, I mean everyone that’s bringing home an enormous paycheck thanks to those users. I know, its shocking. See at some point in time whether it’s right now or 20 years ago, from your bench-warming professional athlete all the way up to the best players in the game, guys have used performing enhancing drugs. It’s everyone and it’s everywhere. People now a days are being naive or just really don’t want to admit it, but everyone is doing it. There are tons of examples I can make, but I’ll try to start with the best ones.
This issue isn’t a new one. If you’re one the naive people I mentioned earlier, try to open your mind and see the world for what it is and it might make this easier to realize. People in this world do drugs. Now, I personally don’t do them, but people have been doing drugs since they were discovered. That part shouldn’t be a surprise. This goes for our heroes in sports 100 years ago all the way up to our rising stars today. See, “back in the day” guys were doing different kinds of drugs, and some were doing the same drugs that are being used today; there was just no testing going on at those times. I know I know, a lot of you out there are saying, well how do you know that? You don’t know any of this as a fact! And they are right, I don’t know any of this to be true. That’s the beauty/horror of this argument. There is no clear-cut winner of this argument, and without catching someone red-handed there really is no way to condemn someone for using steroids. There is public pressure and mounting circumstantial evidence in most cases, but it’s difficult to draw a hard line between guilty and innocent. Even if your name has been hinted at being in the discussion of illegal drugs, you’re guilty. Think about it this way, it certainly would be painful for me to learn that Mickey Mantle or Joe Dimaggio did something “illegal” to gain a competitive advantage, but that’s the harsh reality that could have been very possible. Thank god we will never really know for sure. To say it would be damaging to the foundations of America’s pastime would be an understatement.
Everyday you’re hearing about someone new being tied to PED’s. You’re also hearing people’s names that you would never look at and say, oh yeah he definitely “juiced”. No, that’s not a Jose Canseco reference. I wish that guy would shut his mouth and stop trying to make a few bucks at the expense of others. It’s your fault your broke and nobody else, so stop ratting people out and just go away. Anyway, think about it, Rafael Palmeiro was busted for steroid use. He looked like a normal guy who just happened to be really really good at baseball. Someone who’s 6 feet tall and 215 pounds doesn’t exactly scream I do steroids. Most people have this misconception that steroids are this magical pill that makes you huge, and cut, and turns you into an athletic monster that’s twice the size of your former self over night. That’s not how it works. Let me reiterate that I don’t do drugs, and I don’t condone the use of drugs. However, steroid users still have to put in their time in the weight room. They still have to pour out blood, sweat, and tears to achieve their goals. It’s not magic from a cartoon like Popeye’s spinach that turns you from dud to stud in 5 seconds. Not everyone takes steroids and doubles in size and starts hitting 7357 home-runs like, ahem Barry Bonds, ahem. I wish we could get rid of steroids, PED’s, deer antler spray (hahahaha), and all of this illegal nonsense all together. Unfortunately, it’s just not possible. Some people are trying to take a stand against it thought and that’s great. The voters for MLB’s hall of fame are at the forefront of the fight. In this years hall of fame ballot you had arguably the best hitter of all time (Barry Bonds) and the best pitcher of all time (Roger Clemens) on the ballot. Neither of them got in because of their ties to PED’s. Actually, no one got in from the entire ballot. That hasn’t happened since 1996, and it is only the 8th time in the history of baseball that no one was elected to the hall of fame. Think about that, one of the best hitters of all time and one of the best pitchers of all time used PED’s to gain a competitive advantage. There are more names tied to drug use than I have time to mention, so I’ll leave that to George Mitchell. Logic dictates that almost everyone out there has, at minimum, tried PED’s.
Now I could go on forever with all the different big names that have used PED’s and how they effected their sports in a positive way, and in turn damaged their own livelihood and personal image, but I won’t. I think you get the point by now. If these drugs are the difference between making the team or not, or recovering from an injury in 3 months opposed to 6 months, or hitting a home-run or only having warning track power, you are going to use them. See like I said before, they don’t want you to know everyone who uses. Why you ask? Cycling is literally built on doping. Lance Armstrong finally admits what we all knew for years, who cares. They couldn’t give his trophies to anyone else because virtually everyone in the sport has been caught doping. Thanks to PED’s baseball became relevant again in the 90’s. Thanks to the “steroid era”, we learned what chicks have apparently always known, we dig the long ball. You can keep Mark Mcgwire and Sammy Sosa out of the hall of fame all you want, but you can’t tell me you weren’t watching that home-run race in the summer of ’98. I know I was. I was 12 years old, and I was captivated by each and every home-run trot, every chest bump by Mcgwire, and every shuffle down the first base line by Senor Sosa. I know I get goosebumps just thinking about it. They literally brought baseball back to life. And football, I mean let’s be real. Football has practically been built on HGH and PED’s. It is a violent sport that will stay that way because well, we want it that way. We don’t watch football for the kickers and to watch QB’s slide to safety. We watch for the huuuge hits and spectacular plays.
Since Steroids, PED’s, and HGH have all contributed to the growth and popularity of many of the sports we enjoy today, how do we go about testing for them and ultimately removing them entirely? I personally think we should put serious random testing in every sport. We should come up with a definitive list of what is banned and what is okay for athletes to use, and then we should institute random monthly tests for everyone. I know some would say well that would be too expensive, but let me tell you something; for the amount of money these organizations and franchises generate, they’ll find the money from somewhere. This should take place in all sports at all levels, because the real message behind this conversation is to keep children away from these drugs. Do I think these changes will ever take place? Nope. Cynical of me I know, but it’s just like anything else, it will only change if we stand up together and do something about it.
Lastly, what do I think we should do with all the tainted players that based on statistics alone should be in the hall of fame? I also don’t know if there’s a definitive right or wrong answer, but I will do my best to tackle that topic in my next article.