The issue of performance enhancing drugs, or PEDs, is a hot-button topic for many sports fans. The common argument among those that favor allowing PEDs in sports is the notion that if everyone is doing it, then it is not an advantage. The arguments against PEDS are a bit more practical as they run the gambit from preserving the integrity of the history of sports to setting a dangerous example for children.
In the wake of the steroid-mania of the ’90s lie the careers of baseball players such as Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco and Roger Clemens. Sports personalities often try to deflect the notion that they are role models for children, and that pushing that notion on the athletes is unfair. But, those same athletes seem to forget the sports stars they looked up to when they were growing up. Barry Bonds had sports heroes he looked up to when he was growing up, and to deny that Bonds himself is a sports hero to some is naÃ¯ve.
For me, the issue with steroids has three parts to it. Steroids give an unfair advantage to athletes over those that are trying to follow the rules and not use PEDs. Is Barry Bonds’ career home run record tainted? In my opinion, it is. If someone can show me anything that proves that Hank Aaron took steroids, then I may be inclined to change my mind. Is theÂ Boston Red SoxWorld Series run of 2004 tainted becauseÂ David Ortiz(notes)Â admitted to taking steroids at that time? To me, an avid member of Red Sox Nation, it is. That is when it really hits you. When one of the athletes you look up to was caught cheating during one of the highest moments in your team’s history the feeling is devastating.
Steroids are illegal. Like them or not, agree with their use or not, they are illegal. Why should athletes be given special consideration over the rest of the public when it comes to the law? We all have seen celebrities get relaxed sentences in situations that would have sent non-celebrities to prison for years. That sort of favoritism is unhealthy. If athletes break the law by using PEDs, then they should be punished.
Steroids kill people. Body builder Trevor Smith was proven to be a chronic user of PEDs when he died at the age of 33 from a brain aneurism that was tied to his steroid use. Football star Lyle Alzado died at the age of 42 from a brain disease that Alzado admitted was caused by his steroid use. If steroids do not kill you, then they can cause side-effects such as infertility, baldness, hypertension, shrinking of the testicles and a deep voice in women. Those are not the kinds of side-effects we want anyone, much less our children, to be exposed to.
The competitive edge means working hard, staying fit and practicing your sport constantly. That is how it was done in the years before steroids. In the age of steroids, athletes are dying and the histories of our most beloved sports are being tarnished. Somehow, it just does not seem worth it to me.
Written by: Â George N Root III has thousands of pieces of Internet content to his name. He has also been published in such publications as the Lockport Union Sun and Journal, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and the Buffalo News. He began his career writing sports features for the SUNY at Buffalo Spectrum, and currently publishes sports handicapping and feature articles.