new steroid and drug policy in baseball.
It will cover how the use of steroids affects the game, the players, and the public. Baseball players who used steroids hit center stage earlier this year when several players testified before a Congressional panel. In addition, Major League Baseball (MLB) instituted new policies with “stiffer” penalties for players who test positive for steroids and other banned substances this season. However, these penalties seem minor compared to others in the professional arena, and they still do not solve the larger problem of why players feel compelled to use performance-enhancing drugs in the first place. Baseball must look at the reasons behind drug use to finally solve the problem for the last time.
Baseball players are using steroids, as the suspensions this season have already shown. Jose Canseco bragged about it in his recent book, and told tales of “shooting up” with other players, including Mark McGuire. In the past, several other players have talked about steroid use after their career was over. There are many reasons players use performance-enhancing drugs when they play “America’s game.” One reason is simply the competitive nature of many professional athletes. They want to be the best and beat out their rivals for batting and fielding titles. However, there is another reason that many players turn to steroids. Some could not compete in the competitive arena of professional sports without an edge.
Steroid use certainly affects the game, especially because many other sports will ban an athlete from competition entirely if they are found to have used any kind of performance-enhancing drugs. Baseball’s suspension for a certain number of games and a fine is a “slap on the wrist” at best, and seems almost a joke when compared to other athletic competions, such as the Olympic Games. For example, high profile (and anti-steroid) player Rafael Palmeiro was suspended for a number of games in August for testing positive for steroids. The suspension cost him $165,746, a paltry sum from his annual salary of $3 million (Bodley). In addition, minor punishment like this makes the “national pastime” into a mockery, which does not add to the prestige or enjoyment of the game. But face it. Baseball is no longer a game for the “boys of summer.” It is a big, extremely lucrative business. As player salaries have increased, so has the intense pressure to perform. A big league team is not going to shell out millions of dollars for an average player. However, the majority of players are average. To become more than average many of them work out and train hard, while others turn to performance-enhancing drugs to give them the edge over other players.
In addition, once a player reaches the spotlight on their team, there is intense pressure to stay there, and bring in the fans to the ballpark. The big-league teams are in the business to make money, and today, with high ticket prices, smaller ballparks, and plenty of other young players ready to come up the ranks, there is intense pressure on players to perform and perform well, or the team can easily replace them. Baseball is no longer a game, it is a business, and the player who forgets that may soon be out of the big leagues. It is a sad fact, but it is the truth, and the pressure from management to consistently perform may be impossible for some players without the help of drugs like steroids. It seems that society places so much pressure on these heroes, too, that to appear larger than life, drugs are often the way they cope with pressure and stress. They make themselves “larger than life” with steroids to help reduce the pressure and the stress of their profession and their managers.
This may not be a public safety issue in the larger aspect of wearing seat belts or not driving after drinking, but it certainly is a public safety issue when it comes to the morals and ethics in our society – especially children. Children do imitate their heroes to a large extent, and baseball players, along with other professional athletes, are heroes to many children (and adults). Thus, children may get the idea that if their hero uses steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs, so should they. This is a moral and ethical issue in that it teaches children that cheating is OK as long as there is a reason for it, such as grabbing the home run record for a season as Mark McGuire did. Children get the very real message that McGuire did a wonderful thing, and now it is extremely suspect that he did it on steroids. If it was OK for him to do, then it is OK for them to do. Unfortunately, this can lead to an eventual breakdown of morals and ethics. The black and white between good and bad has become a grey area that is hard to distinguish and even harder to teach and illustrate.
In addition, many players still will not admit what they did was wrong, and some even feel what they did was acceptable in today’s society. One retired player Chad Curtis, told Sports Illustrated, “And that’s what fans want, said Curtis. ‘If you polled the fans, I think they’d tell you, “I don’t care about illegal steroids. I’d rather see the guy hit the ball a mile or throw it 105 miles per hour'” (Caminiti Comes Clean”). If this is the case, then society and baseball are sending the wrong, unethical and unsatisfactory message to American children, and it could come back to haunt society in the future.
This is much more than a sports issue. An issue of ethics, morality, and truthfulness faces American society today. Athletes use drugs to be “the best” and they lie about it to the public, and perhaps even to themselves. It sends a message to the public that some people consider themselves above the law or above morality. This is the wrong message to send to any society, especially one that places its professional athletes on very tall pedestals. Performance-enhancing drugs are wrong, they can be very dangerous – even deadly, and they should be banned from baseball – as should the players that use them.
Author not Available. “Caminiti Comes Clean.” Sports Illustrated.com. 28 May 2002. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/si_online/special_report/steroids/
Bodley, Hal. “Palmeiro Suspended for Steroids Policy Violation.” USA Today. 1 Aug. 2005. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/al/orioles/2005-08-01-palmeiro-suspension_x.htm
Jenkins, Chris. “Players Admit Steroids Changed Baseball. USA Today. 15 March 2005. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/2005-03-15-steroids-mlb-cover_x.htm
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