Victory 1Scott J. McBrideSteroids in Baseball: Victory or IntegrityDr. GoldETH 301November, 17 2008Victory 2Since the beginning of time, men have been competing against one another for land, power, wealth, and countries. Later, the Greeks began the first known organized competition among men. In today's society, many different sports are available at the professional level. Human nature will always desire to dominate and execute almost anything for victory. In the early days of American organized sports, the competitors were volunteers. They played the game for fun and brought excitement to a field. The players, average working class Americans, unknowingly inspired generations of future players. In those days, guts and determination used to the driving force behind winning, now it seems that money and drugs inspire winning.
Professional sports are a multi-billion dollar a year industry considered a revered occupation. Unfortunately, in contemporary times, the game gets out of hand when athletes start using illegal substances to help improve their chances of winning.
These substances usually are anabolic steroids, which are illegal in the U.S, but can be prescribed when a persons testosterone levels are abnormally low. When athletes use these steroids, they are diminishing the integrity of the game. This steroid use and its effects take place in the game of baseball today.
For years, Major League Baseball (MLB) did not have any form of testing; therefore, steroids were administered without any question. Recently there have been famous retired baseball players that have admitted to using steroids and have said that a great percentage of the others do also. We do not know for sure, (and may never know) whether this is true or not, but they do know that something should be done to save the games integrity and respect.
Baseball players predominantly use the drug due to fact it has proven to help their performance in "Americas favorite pastime".
Victory 3Illegal use of steroids give athletes a great competitive edge over their opponents, however when caught, they lose the respect that professional athletes have. According to Dr. Robert Voy, head of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), anabolic steroids have been exploited in many athletic competitions. One example of this is with Olympic gold medalist Ben Johnson. In the 1987 Olympics, Johnson set the world record for completing the 100-meter dash and in 1988 and won the gold medal. After the drug test results were processed, Johnson was forced to forfeit his record and gold medal for failing the test, due to his illegal use of steroids. After Johnson recovered, he came back drug free in the 1991 Olympics and performed poorly. Then in 1993, Johnson was banned from competing for life because he failed another drug test (159).
Another well known example is retired baseball player Ken Caminiti. After his retirement, Caminiti admitted to using steroids throughout most of his baseball career. He affirmed that he was using anabolic steroids when he won the Most Valuable Player Award for the National League in 1996. He also stated that at least 50% of players in MLB are using steroids. Although that statement was never confirmed, it is assured however that Caminiti, Johnson, and many others have used steroids to enhance performance. The reason that Johnson was caught and Caminiti was not was because the Olympics did random testing for such drugs. Caminiti, voluntarily confessed to using steroids(Rosenthal 15-16).
Previous scandals present another example of the effects that illegal behavior can have on the integrity and respect for the game. One of these scandals includes the illegal dealings of a prominent baseball player, Pete Rose. Rose was a very productive baseball player banned from MLB in 1989 for illegal gambling on sports events.
Victory 4In an investigation Rose was revealed to have placed bets on football games and baseball games, but the betting on baseball was never proved. For his actions, Rose was forced to sign a document prohibiting him from baseball, which came with many disappointments, such as not getting inducted into the hall of fame and being banned from celebrating his previous championships in MLB reunions. Another incident that affected the game of baseball was the drug use of a profound baseball player, Darryl Strawberry. In 1995, Strawberry was suspended from baseball for one year after testing positive for cocaine in a police drug test and was suspended again for six months for the same reason. Generally, illegal actions in the past have caused people to look down on the sport and have less interest in its entertainment.
Steroids play a great role in how the youth reacts to competition in sports. According to a study done by the Youth Sports Council, when younger athletes were presented with a substance that could enhance performance with no chance of getting caught, a guarantee that winning would increase and that death was a possibility, more than half of them said they would take it (MacAuley 211-212). MacAuley the director of the Youth Sports Council, states that younger athletes have this belief that they cannot compete with professional athletes because of the suspicion that they use steroids. Therefore the only way to keep the competitive edge necessary to succeed is to use the same substance they are using (212-215).
Another aspect that weighs heavily on the administration of steroid testing is the health factors. According to Bob Goldman director of sports medicine and science of the U.S Olympic training center, steroids are known to have serious long-term effects on the human body. He states that some of these effects include hormonal changes, cardiovascular alterations and many changes in physical appearance.
Victory 5Some of the hormonal changes include excessive body hair, sperm reduction and testicular shrinking. The cardiovascular system also alters with clogging of blood vessels that sequentially can cause heart attacks or strokes. Also the physical appearances change with skin infections, severe acne and horrible rashes (115-122). With so many side effects possible, people wonder how the number of athletes using steroids increases. There is a straightforward answer to this question and that is money. Steroids cause an increase in muscle mass, which in turn increases the amount of hits, homeruns, runs and the pitchers power. This increase in offense will provide more entertainment, which supplies the players with bigger contracts. Some athletes believe that if the drugs are taken properly on a consistent cycle the side effects are minimal. These ideas have never been proven and are denied by the majority of doctors in the steroid field. For example Dr. Voy states individuals who administer steroids properly still receive some side effects in the long run (117).
Testing for steroids is not any new system; in fact all other major sports test for illegal use of performance enhancers. These include the NFL (National Football League), the NBA (National Basketball Association), NHL (National Hockey League) and all the Olympic sports. Each of these organizations applies practically the same test methods. MacAuely states that the drug tests are given at random over any period during the season.
Overall, the use of steroids is not doing any good for the game of baseball, the fans or the players themselves. The controversy is slowly diminishing the integrity and respect for a game that used to be known as Americas national sport. Society's perspective on baseball is now more of an issue about greed then an issue of love for the game. The love for the game is the emotion and passion that the players used to have in playing the game, but today money is the only thing that drives these emotions on field.
Victory 6ReferencesGoldman, Bob, Patricia Bush, and Ronald Klatz. Death In The Locker Room. Tucson: The Body Press, 1984.
MacAuley, Domhnall. Drug Testing In Sports. British Medical Journal. 27 Jul. 1996: 218-211.
Rosenthal, Ken. The Dark Side of the Power Surge. Sporting News. 30 Jul. 2001Voy, Robert. Drugs, Sport, and Politics. Portland: Human Kinetics Pub, 1991.
Yesalis, Charles. Performance-Enhancing Substances in Sport and Exercise. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2000.