In the comments, Brian James wrote:
A Rod should quit baseball and open a hedge fund management company.
Seriously though, athletes leech off of society. They eat more than the common man, the only work they do is directed towards bettering themselves, and they steal all the good looking women. But in exchange, athletes offer the rest of us hope. They show people what can be done if a total commitment is made. In short, the social function of an athlete is to provide a rolemodel.
When you start taking steroids, you encourage the younger generation to do the same. The bar is raised that much higher, such that young players who are trying to compete at the next level feel that they must dope just to get to normal. And maybe that’s ok, once you get to the majors. But what about those who are juicing and still falling short? What percentage of players are doping and not making the cut? What about the 22 year old kid who is now bald and covered in backne, his pitching still not good enough? What about all those once pretty girlfriends who are now black-eyed speak-only-when-spoken-to waifs because the roid-raging outfielder they are dating beat the shit out of them after not getting signed? What about the human garbage that has been created, but which isn’t being talked about on ESPN? To me, those are the victims of steroid use at the highest levels. MLB needs to say ABSOLUTELY that steroids are not allowed, will not be allowed, and those who dope are not
welcome. Anything less than that is a wink and a nod to young players, and a slap in the face to the rest of us who are actually contributing to humanity and getting paid dick all.
A number of interesting points in here. First of all, I can’t agree that “the social function of an athlete is to be a role model.” This may be true with amateur athletes – so Olympians or college kids. But once you get money involved, the function of the athlete, like any other business venture, is to return on the initial investment, and then create more value for the investors. Pro athletes are paid well because they make lots of money for the companies that sponsor or organize professional sports – which in turn makes lots of money because people really like to watch and follow
sports. Idolatry of pro athletes is an unfortunate consequence (that is well-milked by sponsors, etc.) of kids liking sports too. Regardless of how much of a dick a given sports star may be, he is going to be a celebrity and have starry-eyed little kids look up to him if he’s good at what he does. And as far as emulation of a favorite sports star, I think kids reasonably want to be able to hit the ball like A-Rod, or ride as fast as Floyd Landis; even in the wake of those guys (and more) being busted, no kid is thinking “I like [roided athlete] so much that I’m going to do roids to be more like him/her!!!” The cat was out of the bag about steroids even before all this recent stuff – it didn’t take A Rod getting busted to make people think that steroids add to your athletic ability (which, in fact, goes directly against my original thesis that steroid use is not a huge factor in baseball ability). If some kid wants to abuse them, he’s going to do it, and his dealer, the huge dudes in the gym, and his upbringing and mindset are going to be a much bigger influence on that decision than Barry Bonds (or one of the hundred or so non-stars that have been implicated). Again, nobody wants to do steroids, some people just think that the added muscle mass they may gain might help them achieve some goal and are willing to take great risks in order to find out. And honestly, all of the exposé, scandal, and testing in MLB now is a million times more discouraging for younger MLB hopefuls trying to get into the majors than the previous regime of silence/naivete was. What so-called “named” players go through is no “wink and a nod:” no sponsor wants to be associated with (especially the less well-known) abusers, and team owners don’t want that bad publicity (and therefore will resist signing users). This same process is going down in cycling, and hopefully NFL football will join in soon.
The fact is that there will always be a bunch of people – athletes and non-athletes – who are going to use steroids. This is a bad thing, for reasons that Brian mentioned, including ‘roid rage and any number of bad physiological outcomes – he paints a very sad picture of an abused woman that I’m sure rings too true all around the country. Nobody should use steroids without proper medical supervision. But blaming MLB is not the way to get at this problem. There are many things that
influence steroid use, and for one thing, MLB’s crackdown on steroids as it is will decrease the number of users in baseball, regardless of whether those drugs really help or not in that sport. It’s for this reason that I resist making a huge stink about players who are now getting implicated for having juiced a few years ago. Rather than huffing and puffing and building a super-pricey case to make an example of Barry Bonds, the government should spend its energy targeting sources of illegal anabolic steroids and publicizing the ill effects of abuse.