30 April 2014
Forget the Cheating Issue
Seven-hundred sixty-two is the current Major League Baseball homerun record is. This is one of the most controversial numbers in baseball. The man who holds this “record”, Barry Bonds, is labeled as a tainted steroid user and cheater. Nearly every year, for the past fifteen years or so, it seems that some of baseball’s biggest stars are suspended or thrown under the bus for steroid use. Most of the accusations started with the Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa era and have continued to the present day Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun scandals. The use of steroids is not in baseball alone. Its rampant in the NFL, cycling, Olympics. With all of the money the MLB and other leagues have spent on testing, and investigating allegations of steroid use, they could make their lives much simpler. Why not just go ahead and legalize the use of steroids?
Steroids have been around in sports since somewhere in the mid 1950’s. Much was not known about how steroids could increase muscle mass in people at that time. Leroy Watson, a sports writer for Bleacher Report stated, “The whole scandal of steroid use in sports erupted in the early 90’s when athletes in sports like baseball and the Olympics were getting stronger and breaking records” (Watson). Watson is discussing when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were competing for the single season home run record. In 1997 both players hit fewer than 35 homeruns. McGwire did not play a full season, however, as he was setback with an injury. In the following year, 1998, McGwire hit seventy homeruns, Sosa hit sixty-six. The numbers they put up for homeruns that year was an absurd number based on their past season totals. A few years later, the most talked about steroid user, Barry Bonds, hit seventy-three homeruns. During this time in sports, American cyclist Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France title seven straight years from 1999-2005. Shortly after Armstrong had triumphed from his battle with cancer and baseball was seeing a record number of homeruns, people raised the question of steroid use more often. Armstrong, McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds were being thrown under the bus because of their use of steroids. Lance Armstrong and Alex Rodriguez were both proved with using steroids in the past three years.
The issues of steroid use in the MLB are almost an everyday topic on sports networks. ESPN covers these stories on a weekly basis. Sports writer William Moller stated it best in his article saying, “The entire steroid outcry is pure hypocrisy. Look, you and I both understand that the majority of the best players in baseball are steroid users. And so are a good portion of the less than best. If it came out that Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter were on some sort of designer steroid, I’d be surprised and disappointed, but by no means amazed” (548). Fans are not oblivious to the use of steroids in sports. Most fans probably even assume that most of the guys on the field or diamond are using them already. With all the rumors about players and athletes using steroids, there is a simple way to level the playing field, make them legal. Joe Posnanski stated, “The game, for better and worse, is as beautiful now as it ever was” (559). The commissioner of baseball, as well as the commissioners in other leagues, knows that this is the modern era for steroids. The commissioners know that anyone who is having an above average season or is putting up huge numbers in their sports could be using steroids. There is one thing that is not being looked at closely enough with the use of steroids, the positive effects that they have had on the world of sports.
Steroids have also impacted sports in positive ways. Not only would the playing field suddenly be even for all players, it would be at a much higher level. A huge part of watching sports and playing sports is witnessing or achieving the very peak of human athletic ability, and legalizing performance-enhancing drugs would help athletes climb even higher. Steroids would help pitchers to throw harder, home runs to go further, cyclists to charge for longer, and athletes would have more endurance and sprinters could achieve even faster speeds. Not only would it be much more enjoyable to watch athletes compete, it could potentially help struggling city economies. Everyone is well aware that there are side effects with steroids, or any other supplement. When taken in moderation, side effects would be minimal.
It makes sense for professional sports to allow steroids from a business standpoint. The best example for a business standpoint would be those years in the late 90’s when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa put on two of the most memorable baseball seasons in 1998 and 1999. The amount of people watching games and keeping tabs with these two was incredibly higher than in previous years, especially in 1998 when McGwire had broken Roger Maris’ 37-year-old single season home run record. Sports writer Chris Smith stated, “Jerseys were flying off the shelves, attendance rates at ballparks were increasing, and the television viewers were climbing as well” (Smith). At the same time, legalizing performance enhancing drugs would make life much easier for professional sports organizations managing the anti-doping policies. There is a blurry line, for instance, between what is and isn’t an improper performance enhancer. Major League Baseball has strict limits on stimulants like ephedrine and amphetamines, but no restrictions on caffeine use. Athletes are also barred from using human growth hormone, which has shown in several studies to help with injury recovery. Not only would legalizing performance-enhancing drugs help avoid the grey area of deciding whether it is ethnical or not, but they would save the trouble of the hours they took testing samples. The athletes that have been in these scandals were in many cases, the most looked up to athletes in their respected cities. Armstrong showed the world that you could do anything after beating his battle with cancer. Alex Rodriguez, Sosa, Bonds, and McGwire all were arguably the most influential athletes in their cities before their reputations became tarnished.
Steroids might as well be legal and available. Players will continue to use these performance-enhancers until something better comes about. Writers Joe Posnanski and and William Moller from “They Say/I say”, agree with the fact that the game is not viewed differently. Whether it be the Olympics, NFL, MLB, cycling, or some other sport, games will still be played and fans will keep watching.
Moller, William. “We, the Public, Place the Best Athletes on Pedestals” “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing: With Readings. 2nd ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russell Durst. New York: Norton, 2012. 545-551. Print.
Posnanski, Joe. “Cheating and CHEATING” “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing: With Readings. 2nd ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russell Durst. New York: Norton, 2012. 553-559. Print.
Smith, Chris. “Why It’s Time To Legalize Steroids In Professional Sports.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 24 Aug. 2012. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
Watson, Leroy. “Steroids: Is It Time To Legalize and Regulate Their Use?.” Bleacher Report. N.p., n.d. 8 March. 2009. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.