Friday, December 17, 2004

Designer Steriods

Have you noticed the strong reaction in the sports world to the breaking news concerning banned substances and substances that are too "designer" to be banned yet. In case you haven't been keeping up with these stories, one of the problems out there is the use of "designer steriods" which are basically substances that are altered in a laboratory so that they are not detected in a drug test but which essentially still have the same impact/effect on the body as traditional anabolic steriods.

Here's the kicker: while the average American opinion on the matters seems to be that it is wrong, there are lots of people out there saying, "But if you could make millions by doing steriods..." What has amazed me is the number of radio hosts who have endorsed this position, as if to condone the action because of the results that can be attained. While their entire show is basically a joke, The Sonny and Wimp Show broadcast locally on WJOX in Birmingham, AL and surrounding areas can seemingly make no "ethical" judgment about the use of steriods. Sonny Smith, a former Auburn basketball coach, and Wimp Sanderson, a former Alabama basketball coach, seem comfortable with steriod use on a personally level as long as the money is right.

Another that has joked about steriods and the potential to increase one's income from the mediocre to the millions in professional sports is Paul Finebaum who seems similarly to have little doubt that he would take the substances himself afforded the opportunity to increase his own ability and income. Unfortunately, for talk radio hosts, the use of steroids does little to enhance their careers.

Deeper in this problem is the sense in which we live in a society where relativity is king. The average Joe will argue that using steroids is not a good thing to do. But then the average Joe also admits that he would use steroids if faced with the opportunity to increase his contract with the Yankees from a mere $800K to $4-5million a year. Talk about selling your soul...

Would the average sports fan rather have their favorite team clean from using such substances and being a sub-par team, or would the average fan rather see their team being dominant at the expense of using whatever substances were necessary to increase their performance? Given, fans have a tendency to look the other way when their own team is involved. Red Sox fans would accuse all the Yankee players of juicing up but be unable to fathom that any Red Sox players were doing any wrong, and vice versa.

The reason that the U.S. gov't is looking to get involved is because baseball (and one would think football, basketball, and hockey) does not take the problem serious enough to enforce a system that takes care of it. When the players' union is opposed to such testing (and it has been,) we have a problem.

Solutions? Not so easy when a monster has been created that must be fed. In a society that worships its best and most glamorous athletes, taking away their candy will be akin to disarming the Soviet Union.

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