November 20, 2014
The “choice” that is destroying the fabric of sports in America
by: Jim Evans The epidemic of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in sports has been largely defined as a “choice” – the choice between breaking the rules (cheating) and using PEDs or playing by the rules and not using PEDs. Those who make first choice – using PEDs – usually walk away as winners in most sports with all the trophies, the accolades, the media attention, the endorsements – and money – associated with winning. They know that it pays to cheat in sports because everybody loves a winner. They know, too, that, in the long run, fickle sports fans will mostly remember their performance – not that they achieved it at someone else’s expense. Who cares if some other schmuck was not smart enough to use PEDs and walk away with all that loot!?! When the cheaters finally get caught – and most of them eventually do – their immediate defense is to deny using PEDs or rationalize their “choice” by declaring that, well, “everyone else” – especially at the elite or professional level – is doing it too. It isn’t true, of course, that “everyone” uses PEDs (how would they know that anyway?), but it sounds good and rationalizes their “choice” to their adoring fans who will believe anything they say. While some of these cheaters may not be voted into the “Hall of Fame” for their respective sports, they still get to keep all of their records, rings, trophies, awards, and everything else associated with their careers. Most important, they get to keep the all money which ultimately justifies taking the risk of getting caught in the first place. (Amateur sports have taken a harder stance on PEDs than the pros as recently demonstrated by the actions of the USADAwhich stripped Lance Armstrong of his 7 Tour de France titles for doping. However, Armstrong is alleged to still have more than $100 million in the bank and has a popular following of more than 4 million followers on Twitter. Clearly at least 4 million fans don’t care whether he cheated or not). Those athletes who opt for the second choice – of not using PEDs – are usually relegated to the position of “also-rans” or total anonymity in their sport. All else being equal, athletes on steroids or other PEDs will almost always be superior to athletes who are “clean.” PEDs work. Most clean or “natural” athletes accept this reality and compete on their own terms, within the rules, with the knowledge that whatever they accomplish has been honestly earned without artificial enhancement. Yet, one of the most fundamental principles of sport is winning, and natural athletes want to win just as much as anyone else, but it is disheartening to them to have their accomplishments forever diminished by cheaters. Worse, many natural athletes never get the chance to compete at the elite or professional level – despite their ability – because someone who was juiced beat them out. They were denied the opportunity to compete at the elite or professional level because they played by the rules. Lost in the discussion is the almost-always-ignored fact that even simple possession of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs is a federal offense in the U.S., so it is not only breaking the rules but also breaking the law. However, many people don’t believe that they should be illegal because, in their opinion, they don’t pose any risk to anyone unless they are “abused,” even though the health risks for PEDs are well-documented, and “abuse” is an ambiguous term at best. PED advocates typically insist that they are harmless if administered by a doctor in “safe” doses and only to those 18 years of age or older. This begs the question, of course, of what is actually a “safe” dose (not just based on anecdotal gym scuttlebutt) and how to keep PEDs away from those under18 when we can’t even control their use of alcohol and cigarettes. Underlying the controversy of “choice” is the overriding fact that the American public largely wants to be entertained, and they don’t care who takes what to mollify their insatiable appetite for bigger, faster, and stronger athletes generating more towering homeruns, more vicious tackles, more spectacular punches, bigger muscles, faster times, and more of everything else And, if the athletes suffer health consequences as a result of using PEDs – or, worse, die – the fans don’t care because was their “choice.” Yes, gladiators are expendable even in today’s “civilized” world. The negative impact of PEDs on society is hard to fathom for most people because they are separated from the reality of that impact from the perspective of spectators. But if PEDs become universally accepted – legally or otherwise – by the public, the trickle-down effect to the personal level will soon become apparent. EVERYONE – you, your sons, your daughters, your grandchildren – everyone who wants to play sports of any kind could be compelled to use PEDs to participate even at the most elementary level because there will always be someone looking for an edge who will use PEDs. Sports fans just want what they want – until it affects them personally. And, how personal would it be if your youngster – say 10 or 12 years old – was beaten out for a position on the local sports team by another youngster the same age who was using PEDs? It’s happening already. There have been numerous incidents of parentsproviding steroids to their young children so that they can excel in sports to win that college scholarship, become an Olympic champion, get drafted by the pros, and become rich and famous. These parents – many of whom were athletes themselves – often live vicariously through their children to achieve the stardom that they could not, and they are not at all reluctant to start them on PEDs at an early age. The personal impact on you would be that your child, your grandchild, or another youngster you know might be denied the opportunity to compete on a level playing field because someone else made the “choice.” But, it’s just a choice. Right? http://www.examiner.com/article/the-choice-that-is-destroying-the-fabric-of-sports-america
Natural Bodybuilding Examiner
Jim Evans is a 47-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and internationally recognized fitness consultant. He was the founder of the North American Natural Bodybuilding Association (NANBA) – now NANBF – in 1984 and hosted the first WNBF pro natural competition – the Natural Universe – in 1990. Evans is a member of the ABCC Natural Bodybuilding Hall of Fame and the U.S. Natural Bodybuilding Hall of Fame. He has been published in dozens of magazines and newspapers including Natural Body & Fitness, Iron Man, Natural Physique, Natural Body, Best Body, Exercise for Men Only, Muscle & Fitness, Strength & Health, and Fitness & Physique.