I have been thinking about the ‘problem’ of performance-enhancing drugs for a while now. With people like Barry Bonds and Jason Grimsley consistently re-opening the topic after something they do or something they say, I am getting tired of hearing about all of the players who use these substances and have little patience for the media’s treatment of them – what usually consists of two or three days of coverage of them and then, well, nothing. We need to accept the fact that we have come to a time where steroids and human growth hormone are a fact of life. These performing enhancing drugs are probably never going away.The idea to write this story came to me when I read the recent edition of ESPN: The Magazine. It had an article about how and why pitchers use steroids. The answers are what you would expect. They use steroids to extend their careers, to help with the pain of throwing a baseball for a living while being in their thirties, all as a seemingly noble end to get the money to support their families for the rest of their lives.
Some pitchers are even prescribed steroids to help with the pain that it causes the morning after they pitch, commonly known as a ‘pitchers hangover.’ Nevertheless, ESPN interviewed a pitcher who told how the juice is not good at all for current or future major league pitchers. He believes steroids are just as big of a problem in pitchers as it is in hitters.
A big part of the blame of the preponderance of steroid stories has to be the fault of the media. Believe me; I would like to know who is juicing and who is playing the game fair but not every time that the 11 o’clock Sportscenter airs. I also have issues with the fact that by the media showing that despite these players cheating, the heights to which they’ve risen – and the money they have earned; young players see the tangible benefits of using steroids of HGH. You get fame (albeit infamy too), big contracts, and big numbers next to your name. For most people, though, it is all about the Benjamins.
Who reading this right now would not want to make $10 million a year for seven years? The temptation to be able to retire as early as forty and have enough money to last you until you die is, as you can imagine, very attractive. Barry Bonds may have no one to celebrate his 756th homerun with other than his son, but he certainly needn`t worry about money again. Even more galling than him cheating, though, is the fact that this season he has only hit 11 home runs and accounted for 34 RBI. Nevertheless, the sellouts at Pac-Bell Ballpark in San Francisco make him a commercially viable product.
Unfortunately, I do not think there is anything that baseball can do to clean up the games. It is estimated that one out of four baseball players use steroids and/or HGH. Think about it: 25 percent of people in Major League Baseball are cheating – it is just amazing to me how all of these players flaunt the code and history of the game and how an equally disproportionate amount is caught.
And if you look at the percentage of people punished for using performance enhancers, just think about how easy a decision it would be to decide if you should use the drugs or not. Steroids, like anything else prescribed by a doctor, should not be taken unless they are specifically for you. Nevertheless, this is what professional sports are dealing with right now.
People cheat but most athletes are not doing it for the records. They are doing it to add a couple zeros to their contract. So the athlete can be respected. Or to give his team an extra boost so they can win the championship. As I have shown you, there are countless reasons athletes use enhancers. It is a fact of life in today’s sporting climate.
It really is a whole new ballgame.