Drugs in Sports: Super-sized expectations out of left field

If athletes are our role models, we have much bigger problems than whether or not they are on steroids.

drugs 88 (photo credit: )
drugs 88
(photo credit: )
Steroids. Performance-enhancing drugs, or the sexier 'PED's. HGH. Primobolin. Nandrolone. Norandrosterone(!). 'The Cream'. 'The Clear'. Why the hell are all of these words or phrases a part of my lexicon... and for all the wrong reasons? I mean, I used to care, get outraged as a fan when my favorite athletes were unmasked as "cheaters," but that was a long time ago. Back when Ben Johnson was still a young Canadian runner from Jamaica who momentarily held the "World's Fastest Man" title with a 9.79 100-meters. Back when a 25 home-run season qualified you as an MLB slugger, and 30 had you in the MVP discussion (reigning AL MVP Dustin Pedroia aside). Back when pee in a cup was something that made me think only of the doctor's office, or a gross-out college prank. But at some point, I reached my tipping point. At first, it was subtle. A subconscious willingness to believe that all of a sudden, the human race got faster, stronger, more adept at riding bicycles up soaring mountains with weird French names. A sort of Darwinian, survival-of-the-fittest type of approach towards the sudden boom across the sports landscape that began about 15-20 years ago. "The players and athletes just naturally adapted to be able to perform these Herculean feats, and on a seemingly daily basis, no less," I knowingly fooled myself into thinking as I gleefully watched the great home run chase of '98 between action-figure heroes Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Or as I delighted in Roger Clemens winning five Cy Young awards long after his prime should have come and gone. Or witnessing long-standing records in the pool, gym and on the track drop like... well, the other shoe! Then, all of a sudden, the dirty doping rumors began flying, the pills started pouring in, the failed drug tests across the board, the suspensions, bans and press conferences. To this day, even, all we seem to hear about in sports, or at least WAY too much of the time... in ALL sports, from (insert name of any sport here) to (insert name of any other sport here) is beefed-up athletes, juiced-performers, missing samples, tainted supplements, stripped medals, or more aptly, dignity. And at the heart of it all, the impact that all this has had/is having on the games, or more broadly, on society. Congressional hearings, Senator-run investigations. Committee and laboratory names with long, government-agency sounding acronymed monikers, like WADA or BALCO. I've had enough! I have a new stance! It's one that is slightly unorthodox and may sound shocking or unappealing at first, but bear with me, hear me out. I just want to be entertained, and these athletes have cast themselves in the roles of my entertainers. So bring it on, entertain away! Open the floodgates... Let's make it a pharmaceutical field day… a syringe smorgasbord… a 'Boli bonanza! I want the chemists and biologists in the lab to see how quickly they can make a head grow bigger than Barry Bonds'. I envision a 120 HR season. A 9.2 second hundred. I dream of seeing someone beat Michael Phelps in a 200m freestyle medley…and then dust Usain Bolt in a race around the block after lunch. Who the #$*% cares what these people are pumping into themselves? What? They're killing themselves, destroying their bodies and long-term health for them and their children? That's their choice. They aren't YOUR friends, your family, people you really care about. You call them role models. Well, what are you going to do when they are clean but still picking up prostitutes and or imbibing/abusing any and all other legal substances or vices the world has to offer, whether it be alcohol, women, gambling, etc.? They may not be doping, but will you want your kids to look up to them then? Professional athletes aren't, or shouldn't be, role models in any sense of the term, and if they are being looked at as such, we as a society have much bigger problems than whether or not they are on steroids. You wanna talk about integrity of the game, well that is a very, uh, "loosy goosey" term, to borrow a phrase from none other than the goat du jour himself, Alex 'A-Roid' Rodriguez. Competitive balance or the notion of a "fair and even playing field"? They're all on something! Or they should be… It would make 'em better! In fact, I rather like what we have going on. It's, shall we say, entertaining. The best minds in the world trying to outsmart the authorities to invent an even better and more undetectable power serum or magic potion that will, undoubtedly, fly off the shelves of the black-market pharmacies at which athletes just love to shop. As long as the action keeps on coming and the world records keep on setting, it's all good by me. Now if they could just find a way to improve the damn refs. uesturm@gmail.com