I admit that a lot of the things I choose to think and write about are well outside of any expertise I might possess. This post is an exception. I was a professional certified trainer for 12 years and I actually know what the hell I’m talking about. The giant media clusterfuck around steroids is ridiculous and just another example of a bunch of squirrels running around and gathering nuts.
Athletes take steroids. They take hormones, blood enrichers, vitamins, amphetamines, oxygenators, and any other damn thing that will make them do what they do a little faster. Get over it. And what’s more, that’s OKAY. They have CHOICE. And taking a steroid or two may be a good choice to make. (As usual I have to include a disclaimer about kids. Taking steroids before your body is formed is a whole different thing. A high school coach who allows doping should be jailed for a really long time. However, we’re too fucking busy chasing Barry Bonds around to deal with a real problem.)
First, let’s be very clear on what steroids do, and more importantly, don’t do. What they do is allow you to recover faster. Period. The end. Every time you work out you need to recover before you can do it again. Steroids shorten that time. If you take steroids you can work out harder and more often. This allows you to build more muscle or more cardio fitness. If you’re injured they help you get back in shape faster. And they will keep you fresher as a long season wears on. In short, they allow athletes to train more. They don’t make that training any easier.
Second, let’s look at the costs. Yes, steroids are dangerous but being a football player is really dangerous. There are side effects and probable long term health issues to both. Adults get to make informed decisions. How many of the harpies worrying about steroids drink or smoke or do something else that has long term health risks? If taking a possibly dangerous drug would allow you to do something you love and generate enough wealth to take care of your grandchildren, would you take it? I probably would.
Now let me refute the steroids arguments one by one. First, that they represent cheating in some way. There are a few ways to look at this. You’re not cheating the fans. They want to see performance and excellence and they don’t really care how you get there. Baseball attendance has done nothing but increase since steroids became news. You’re not cheating other players because there are just too many variables to make that broad a statement. Every athlete makes decisions on training. And you certainly aren’t cheating the record books. That’s just stupid.
Things change over time. Knowledge deepens, skills are honed, tactics are perfected. This is particularly true about athletics because of the huge amount of financial resources available. You might wait weeks for an MRI after your insurance company finally approves it while some pro sports teams HAVE THEIR OWN MACHINE. All of this means that every generation has access to knowledge and training that gives them an advantage. That’s why records are always being broken. Records never stand up.
You cannot compare eras at all. When Babe Ruth hit all those homers he did so on a diet of hot dogs, steak, cigarettes, and gin. He drank beer before a game. Nobody knew any better. Every contract Willie Mays ever signed specifically banned him from working out with weights. This prohibition was standard in all baseball contracts until the late 70s. For the first half of the history of baseball was only played by white athletes. Every era, hell every year, is unique. Different stadiums, expansion, nutrition, medicine, etc. etc. etc. Shall we ban every pitcher who has reconstructive surgery because Sandy Koufax couldn’t have it?
Another squirrel argument is that steroids are illegal. You must be kidding. First of all, steroids are not illegal if they’re prescribed by a doctor and they’re legally prescribed all the time. I’m sure that a pro athlete could find a doc to help out if he needed it. Secondly, most athletes do illegal things all the time. Baseball players take amphetamines, nearly everyone smokes pot, many people drive drunk, some of them beat their wives and worse. I never heard of an asterisk being applied to a record because the guy was arrested for a DUI.
Athletes are entertainers, and as entertainers they get to make a lot of money. If you are going to hold them to a standard that includes no ‘artificial enhancement’ then you need to hold other entertainers to the same standard. So actors and musicians will be disqualified if they use drugs, get boob jobs or face lifts, use botox. I could go on and on. Disqualifying an athlete for steroids makes as much sense as keeping and actress out of films for lengthening her career with a little plastic surgery. Go out, enjoy what these people do for your entertainment, and get the hell over it. Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.
– Archbishop Angus