Steroids in Sports
In many parts of the world today, sports competitions are the vehicle for the fierce quest to win, to be “the best.” Athletes will do anything to win whether that be cheating in golf or taking steroids in order to excel in baseball. It is said that over 3 million athletes and bodybuilders have used illegal steroids in this country alone (Street 1). If many people already use steroids why not make them legal and let people take them at their own risk? Or perhaps do you think steroids should stay illegal because they have harmful side effects and promote an unfair advantage in sports? With the growing concern over steroid use in our country, we must look at what is really best for the future of our athletes and the spirit of competition.
Steroids are extra hormones that are either taken orally or injected into the body. Theses hormones set off a reaction that sends an individual’s testosterone level soaring, which in turn allows that person to increase muscle size and strength. But with this new-found strength comes some harmful side effects. Steroids can cause heart attacks or liver cancer, not to mention all the newly acquired acne that often develops. These are only a few of the hundreds of unhealthy things that can happen to you when you are on steroid (NIDA 4).
.Many people, medical experts and athletes alike, feel steroids should be legalized. They feel that the use of steroids a few times and in moderation is acceptable. They state that the unhealthy aspect of steroids comes from abuse of the drug. Some people can use steroids and have no effects at all (Street 2). However, the fact remains, that in long-term usage, steroids are still bad for your body.
Many people against steroid use feel that the use of steroids constitutes cheating. “If all the anabolic steroids were removed from the athletic world, athletes would have equal opportunities to excel and win (Taylor 13).” There have been many incidents when athletes have been caught using steroids and have been punished for doing so. A Canadian track star name Ben Johnson was denied a gold medal at the 1988 Olympics after he tested positive for steroids. This became a big issue in the world of sports and started the big debate over the steroid issue. Others believe that sports already has enough advantages and disadvantages so why not allow steroids? Many athletes can afford expensive trainers and work-out regimens made especially for them. Many say this is an unfair advantage over others who can’t afford the extra costs. The people who use steroids are only cheating in sports and cheating their body of its health, as well. Americans, themselves, are just lazy people and instead of working hard to
get stronger, they would rather take the short route by using muscle and strength enhancing drugs.
When we look at the reasons athletes insist on using these harmful drugs one can only blame the competitive nature of our society. It appears to begin way back in early childhood when kids start to get involved in sports. Dads who push their children to excel in sports are only asking for trouble in the future. As kids grow up, they never want to disappoint their parents or themselves. It is said that kids as young as 10 years old are using steroids to do better in sports. Almost 3% of all young children who compete in organized sports are using steroids, which points to a significant and serious problem in our country.
Steroids are expensive, often costing a few hundred dollars, so it’s obvious that it is the parents or coaches who are buying these illegal substances (Associated Press). The great coach Vince Lombardi once said “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing” (Voy 204). Winning and being the best is what many people feel sports is all about. When respected and legendary coaches such as Coach Lombardi feel that way, it’s easy to see why impressionable young athletes as well as mature adults feel that way, too. Winning and being the best bring recognition. Recognition brings money. Money brings power. It’s all about the bottom line which is money and power.
The U.S. government has laws that forbid the distribution and possession of steroids. The violation of these laws is classified as a felony (Yesalis 310). All of the major sports federations have banned steroids and other drugs closely related to steroids. But athletes continue to take the risks and break the rules in order excel in their sport, which in some cases is their job, their livelihood. Those in favor of steroid use feel that you should be allowed to use the drug if it allows you to perform your job in a better way. The supporters go against all medical reports that prove the drug is harmful. Many Americans aren’t listening (or won’t listen) about how bad steroids are for you. Advertisements and body building magazines try to mislead the public by stating that steroids can help people who are given prescriptions for the drug and therefore, since doctors prescribe it, it must be safe. But the majority of steroid use in the United State is illegal , with the drugs being smuggled in from other countries.
If, for some reason steroids were to become legal, many changes would have to take place. First, federal laws limiting and in some cases banning steroid use would have to be changed. Secondly, the sporting world would be devastated and severely impacted to the point of being turned upside down. If the sports organization allowed the use of steroids in
competition, the athletes would be exposing themselves to great risk or harm (Yesalis 310). This is not acceptable at all for any sports and in my
opinion, would destroy the athletic competition as we know it. If steroids were legalized in general but still prohibited in the world of sports, as some suggest, the monitoring and control of the use of steroids would be extremely difficult. Athletes still would be able to get their hands on steroids as easily as they can get aspirin. Medical experts have proven in extensive testing and research that the long-term use of steroids is harmful to the human body. However, long-term use of steroids is what is needed for athletes to obtain the muscular build and strength they desire. Therefore it is certain those that individuals who use steroids for that reason will suffer serious complications that put their bodies at risk.
One of the joys of athletic competition has always been witnessing the dedicated, determined boy or girl, man or woman who competes in their sport for the sheer joy of pushing themselves to the limit to see what they can accomplish. The last minute “surprise ending” in a soccer game when the underdog team scores a lucky goal and wins the game is what spectators “live for.” The look of sheer concentration on the face of the sprinter as he crosses the finish line first (or even last), knowing they doing the best they can is why people watch sports and why they compete in them. Coloring the event with the muscle bound jocks who only had to pop some pills and do minimum amount of work to hone their bodies to perfection will take the fun, the surprise, and even the disappointment we’ve come to expect when we watch our favorite team on Monday night football. From the beginning of the world’s athletic competition, the very first Olympic Games
in Greece, the glory was not in winning but in competing. Steroids will take the glory out of sports. Athletes will no longer be athletes, they will be robots, programmed and pumped up to win. In my opinion, sports, as we
know them, will be gone forever. Steroid use in sports should continue to be illegal. Yes, there will be those who cheat and use drugs to enhance their performance. There were always cheaters in every walk of life and they will continue to exist. For the protection of our athletes, for the protection of the true joy of the game, let us not allow steroid use in sports.
Kowalski, Kathiann. “Steer clear of steroid abuse”. Current Health 2 Mar. 1999: 13-15.
National Institute on Drug Abuse: Research Report Series, Anabolic Steroid Abuse. 24 April 2000. http://www.n1da.n1h.gov/reasearch reports/steroids/anabolicsteroids2.html.
Street, Chris. “Anabolic Steroids: Hope, help or harm?” Joe Weider’s Muscle & Fitness Dec. 1999: 100-101
Taylor, William N. Hormonal Manipulation : A New Era of Monstrous Athletes. London: Mcfarland & Company Inc., 1985
Voy, Robert and Kirk D. Deeter. Drugs, sports and politics. Illinois: Leisure Press, 1991.
Yesalis, Charles E., Ed. Anabolic steroids in sports and exercise. New York: Human Kinetics Publishers, 1993.
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